Michael Gibson, a Creative Director and Advertising Consultant, based in Moscow joins the program.
Michael starts the program by describing what it is like learning to fly in Moscow. "It's very exciting. There are flying schools around Moscow, just like in any other country, and it is a real adventure. Here it is particularly interesting because this is a country with a mighty flying legacy and some iconic aeroplanes which are famous the world over… The weather is extreme here, so severe that the idea of flying in snow and ice is not theoretical, which it might be in the UK. Also, the way that airfields completely transform between summer and winter tests you as a pilot. In the winter, runways and taxiways are completely covered with ice, and there are piles of snow on the edges of taxiways, which you must pay attention to because you do not want your wings to hit them. There are all sorts of things like that….There are some amazing instructors here. My first instructor was like a Jedi who taught me flying as if it came from the soul and the heart in a very Russian way. I have had all sorts of different instructors, including a pilot who used to fly Russian bombers!"
Basic truths about flying such as the fact that landing is not optional; meaning that when flying one has to remain focused all the time, sharpens one's mind, and this is something that is transferable to the business environment, says Michael. "There are many things which can be applied in business, such as being methodical and having checklists. The aviation business is hot on checklists. There are certain things which there is no point in trying to remember, it is better to write them down, and this can be actively applied everywhere. In fact, in the medical profession, there are cases of medics who are pilots who have introduced checklists into medical practice. Some surgeons have been known to do silly things like leave scalpels inside of patients after operations. It is not because people are stupid, but because of circumstances and procedures, and if you just happen to have something like a checklist it is very useful."
"Time management is also a very big deal when you are flying. If you get into trouble, normally you need to set a stopwatch because you need to know when the trouble started and how distant you are in time from when that started. There are famous instances when pilots have run out of fuel because they have not realized how much time has gone by. People cannot really manage time. If you ask people what time they will arrive for dinner, they will always estimate that they need less time than they really need. When you have a room full of people in a meeting discussing things, a lot of time is wasted, so I always set stopwatches on meetings just as I would in a plane….In an emergency, usually, you lose track of time. You have to be very very careful, and people may become obsessed with trying to fix a problem. There was a famous incidence when a pilot was trying to fix a landing gear problem, lost all sense of time and ran out of fuel. There was a bigger problem behind the problem, which he thought was the main problem. So stress is a big deal, it does things to your body which you don't really know about until you find yourself there."
"Communication is key in business, and that's a big deal in flying as well. When flying, your communication needs to be short and to the point. They always say in flying that you should say what you need to say and nothing else. You always say who you are, where you are and what do you want. This is quite a good model for communication for people generally. I like people at work to send me emails that are almost like a radio call-in an aeroplane. I do not need all the other stuff… Flying also teaches you how to handle mistakes; not to focus on what went wrong but to focus on fixing it. You have to report problems. There are famous cases that happened in Asian culture where there is a tradition of being submissive, where the second pilot did not report problems to the pilot in command. I have been in exactly that situation. You think that you would never do that, but then you find that in certain situations you would…."
There are many more aspects of flying which can be transferred to business environments, which you can find out about by listening to this program.
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