On-The-Fly: Choosing Flight

David Ridderhoff, Sports Editor

When stories break about aircraft accidents, it sends shock waves through the aviation community. For those that have come to Lewis University to study the field and pursue it as a career, hearing of these stories are even more stressful, as they one day could be a part of those accidents and stories.

Pushing these thoughts to the side are difficult, yet a task that must be dealt with every day.

For some, it becomes a distraction and too much to deal with, but for others, these stories are used to create a safer way of navigation for the public.

“America’s Federal Aviation Regulations are the best in the world,” said senior Aviation Administration major Austin Hill. “The reality is we do not live in a perfect world so accidents happen everywhere all the time. But as far as aviation safety goes, America is the best in air travel in my opinion.”

Hill’s perceptions are shared by other Lewis aviation majors.

“Hearing about accidents and crashes actually makes me more interested and willing to be in the aviation industry because I know that I will one day have the chance to prevent accidents from occurring,” said junior Aviation Administration major Doug Lee. Being one of the people that ends up preventing these accidents is a factor that actually increases interest in the major and profession.

Despite the best efforts of not only American government agencies, but also pilots, we still see freak accidents and situations that cause concern, yet also teaches lessons.

This ends up being one of the most difficult parts of aviation, trying to use sad events such as a tragic accident as a learning experience. Lewis does go through exercises to prepare students for tragedies and emergencies before they get into the field.

“All of the major classes that you have to take definitely prepare you for any type of emergency that you would encounter, but it all comes down to when that situation happens in your career,” said Lee. “This is what Lewis does such a great job at, not only teaching students to be book smart, but also the ability to think for themselves and act in a way that can take a critical situation and bring it to a safe ending.”

“The best preparation for the possible event of an aircraft accident or crash starts before you even get the keys to the aircraft,” said Hill. “Even when you know what the weather forecasts are for the day, the status of the aircraft and your pre-takeoff checklist are complete, the pilot is responsible to tell if it is safe to fly, before ever entering the runway.”

The Lewis aviation program is constantly improving its ability to make the skies safer; it has always a priority among those in the aviation department.

Classes that teach the history of aviation accidents, as well as activities such as the one highlighted in this article are testaments to the program’s willingness to spend time discussing and learning from past tragedies.

Overall, it seems as if aviation majors at Lewis are not at all intimidated to enter the industry following their graduation from the university.

They enter the industry knowing well the risks and dangers involved with the profession.  Students have thoughtfully weighed the risks and continue to feel great passion for the aviation field.

For some, it is a matter of loving the field of study, rather than weighing risks.

“To have a professional and passionate career goal of being a pilot means that you will be the best in your job, to know the aircraft, how it operates, and what to do in given situations,” said Hill. “I don’t think I have ever met a pilot who did not like flying or stopped flying because of accidents becoming a fear for them.”

Lee echoed that thought, saying, “I have never second guessed my choice to be aviation major, because I believe when you’re passionate about something; nothing can make you change or sway your mind.”

While these incidents are obviously in the back of the minds of not only students entering the profession, but also faculty preparing them to make the transition, they seem to be something of a motivating factor for the entire aviation community.

Being prepared and preparing the next generation of aviators is the best way to create a safer way to travel, and Lewis University remains at the forefront of just that.

David Ridderhoff
David Ridderhoff is a junior Radio/TV broadcast major. He is the sports editor for The Flyer. He is also the general manager of Lewis’ radio station, WLRA. As an avid sports fan, he also collects hats and jerseys from a variety of sports teams.

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