The Airplane Ride
I have a friend who owns a classic airplane. We were talking about it one day when he offered me a ride. I immediately said yes and we set up a time and place. He owns a 2 seat, open cockpit bi-plane. My experience with those planes is limited to having my feet firmly on the ground and admiring the planes as they fly hundreds of feet overhead.
In email exchanges prior to the flight I asked what to wear. He suggested that if I had access to a clown suit, I should wear that. I do have access to said clown suit, but that is another story altogether. Then he suggested Batman and Robin apparel, but I do not have those costumes, so he said just dress for the weather. I was given directions to the hanger where we would meet and which door to enter, there were no instructions regarding a secret knock.
After a few pleasantries, I was told that I was going to have to wear a parachute. The look on my face must have been telling, because he explained that if we were going to do loops and rolls, a parachute was required. He also wears a parachute but has never had to use it. Comforting. We climbed into the plane, gave me headphones and showed me which button to push to talk to him and strapped me in the front seat. Warning me what I should and should not touch. Not wanting to crash the plane, I paid particular attention on what not to touch.
We taxied to the end of the runway, turned the other way (into the wind) and took off. Taking off in a 2 seater, open cockpit biplane is far different than taking off in a commercial jet, and a lot more fun. We hit the skies and did a little tour around town. Finding a hole in the clouds, he asked if I was ready to do a loop. Umm, sure? He reassured me that there would be fewer G forces than a roller coaster, and away we went. It was really fun to see the earth from upside down! The next trick he was going do was a roll. We rolled over our left shoulders an again, I enjoyed it. Then came the final trick.
He asked me if I wanted to take control of the plane, and that scared me far more than either the loop or the roll. But I took the airplane higher, then lower, banked left, then right. My friend took back the controls and made the smoothest landing I have ever felt.
As small business owners and managers none of us were told to take the helm of our organizations with no experience, no hours of training. We may have started our own businesses, but we have all had experiences of some sort that we could rely on to help us navigate our businesses in the right direction. My friend is an experienced pilot with the highest rating you can get, but he didn’t just pass a test. He had hours upon hours of flying with an expert trainer with him, showing him what to look for and what to avoid. As business owners and managers, we need our own expert trainers.
I urge you to take advantage of your accountant, attorney, industry associations and buying groups and even your banker can provide insights into how to improve your business. The more time you spend understanding how your business and industry work, the more profits you will see.
When we finally climbed out of the plane, my friend asked me if I was ready to learn to fly and get my pilots license. Knowing how relieved I felt when he took back control, I am OK with being a passenger for now.