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I’d Love To Hear Your Answer To This Question

Checklists, Fear, Panic, Experience, and FAA Expectations

Jim Moore is the Drone Pilot Newsletter editor with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the largest association of aviators globally. If you have not yet subscribed to the free newsletter with AOPA, you can click here not to miss an issue.

In this episode, we talk about:

  • Different ways checklists are important and how they can be implemented.
  • Why checklists are not “Do” lists.
  • The Part 107 pilot learning curve and different learning experiences.
  • What “Off Nominal Conditions” are (thanks NASA).
  • How the earliest pilots learned to fly by mail, and it didn’t go well.
  • What manufacturers don’t tell us about that goes into our drones.
  • The responsibility rests on the shoulders of the remote drone pilot.
  • How the FAA sees you and will judge you.
  • What the FAA expectations are of drone pilots.
  • What the FAA could care less about what you know or can do.
  • Which is most important: understanding the regulations, Aeronautical Decision-Making or Risk Management.
  • Loose, Juice, and Roost. A great tip for a minimum emergency UAS checklist.
  • Landing zones and trees.
  • We talk about how to handle fear, panic, and emergencies.
  • How to get the gonads to say no and put your foot down.
  • Where to find your best safety pilot.
  • What we can do to lift all of us up as pilots.

Be sure to subscribe to the Public Safety Flight private email list for public safety pilots.

Transcript

Show Intro:
You’re listening to the public safety drone flight podcast. Your source of real-world actionable aviation information for fire departments, police departments, and law enforcement agencies. This is the critical information you need to be an exceptional pilot and help save lives with flight. And now your host public safety flight, chief pilot Steve road.

Intro:
Hi, this is Steve road, your friendly chief pilot here at the public safety flight website. Be sure to visit P S flight.org to get in on my private email list, read all the latest posts or ask me all of your public safety, drone questions. That’s PSflight.org. Or if that trips you up, you can land in the right place by using PublicSafetyFlight.org. Jim Moore, the power behind the excellent AOPA drone pilot newsletter. It’s an exceptional resource of drone information and he’s a wonderful editor and does an incredible job of crafting the newsletter, dealing with idiot writers like myself and researching a number of aviation topics to help educate pilots. Jim is also an instrument rated private pilot and a Part 107 drone pilot. So he knows what he’s doing. Welcome, Jim,

Jim Moore:
You’re giving me way too much credit, but thank you very much. Happy to be with you.

Steve Rhode:
Well, Jim, you know, let’s talk for a minute about, uh, the group of new drone pilots that I love to call the accidental aviators that got involved in drones, but never had any experience in aviation before. What’s the one thing that you think those pilots, uh, later wish they knew before they started flying drones for the first time?

Jim Moore:
Um, think it through plan and, uh, use a checklist, I guess that’s maybe all part of the same thing or, um, maybe you’ll take points off because I broke it up into, into three, but, um, the biggest, the biggest thing you learn, I think the most important thing that you learn as a pilot, um, of manned aircraft in particular, since that’s my background is, is risk, risk mitigation, and tied to that is anticipation. So everything you do you want to think through, uh, what could go wrong and if it does, you know, what might happen and how might I respond to that? So in the context of, of drones of unmanned aircraft, um, part of that is using a checklist to make sure to go through and make sure that, um, you know, all systems are functioning normally, particularly when it comes to things like batteries.

Jim Moore:
I think a lot of people, particularly newcomers deviation probably assume that, you know, if the battery, if the, if the system starts up and the battery shows, you know, four green lights, you know, all those well, but experience has taught us, um, the wider industry that, that just isn’t true and that small deviations in voltage between cells or abnormal temperatures or a whole host of things can be out of whack with a battery. And it will not necessarily prevent the aircraft from starting up and taking off, but it could drop out of the sky like a rock without any warning whatsoever.

Steve Rhode:
You know, batteries are interesting because, um, DJI, uh, actually says that your battery should be stored at a 60% charge and not charged to a hundred percent until you use it. You know, I don’t know how many people actually do that or like in public safety, you know, we need to make sure that we can fly right. Then we can’t pull up at the scene and go, hold on. I need a 40 minutes charges thing. Exactly. So, you know, it’s a no win and you’ve mentioned checklists, great segue. We’re going to get to that on the next question, but here’s a situation Jim, you and I are in a very unique situation. We’re both manned aircraft pilots. We both had that previous experience. And a hurdle that I run into is that when I say, you know, in the manned aircraft world X, sometimes I’m always afraid that people think I’m trying to say that I’m better than them. When in fact, what I’m really saying is I just had an entirely different set of experience in learning other than just taking, I don’t even know what the number of questions is now, but for the part one Oh seven exam, can, can you help explain to our new public safety pilots out there, the type of training that you went through as a manned aircraft pilot, that’s different than what they’re going through. Okay.

Jim Moore:
Uh, sure. For sure. And it’s something that we put a lot of thought into when we created the AOPA drone membership and the drone pilot newsletter. And we began in a formal way talking to a drunk pilots and that included a discussion that, you know, w w should we call them drones? Uh, unmanned aircraft system is a technically correct term. Uh, and the FAA uses that, uh, often, uh, sometimes interchangeably with drones and it really is interchangeable with drones, but we, we came to the conclusion that it was important to use the word drone, because that’s the word that, that everybody knows, uh, you see it all over the media and everywhere and different contexts. And it was also important for us to use the word pilot, uh, because the word as opposed to operator or some of the other possible variations pilot as a word that, that comes with responsibility.

Jim Moore:
And so it’s a mindset of being much like the captain of the ship, the pilot of a ship at sea, the pilot in command of an aircraft has a tremendous amount of responsibility and a tremendous amount of authority, uh, that, you know, you are allowed. And, and I was just reading in your article that, uh, uh, for the next issue, you know, you mentioned, you know, far 91.3, it gives pilots the authority to deviate from any regulation, if it is necessary to meet an emergency. And so that, you know, it’s kind of a double-edged sword in that sense, but to, to your question, the, the basics of earning a private pilot certificate, it’s, you know, 40 hours is the minimum required flight time, but I know very few people, uh, outside of, you know, maybe an intensive program where you doing it all in a, in a few weeks, most people take longer than 40 hours.

Jim Moore:
Um, in my case, it was a lot longer than 40 hours because I first flew in 1986 and I didn’t get my private pilot’s certificate until 2005. Uh, and the instrument rating followed in 2011. So in between that, there was a lot of stopping and starting, and that kind of stretches it out. That’s not an uncommon story, but it’s, you know, it’s a major investment of time and effort and study, uh, to not only learn the basics of how you get an aircraft up in the air and then back down on the ground safely. But, uh, a huge chunk of it is learning how to manage your emergencies and abnormal situations. NASA calls them off nominal conditions. Uh, you know, when, when the, you know, what hits the fan, it is very important to have a good base of knowledge, uh, intimate knowledge of every system on the aircraft, as well as the navigation AIDS and the air traffic control system that you’re working in. Uh, you have to know a lot to be able to make good decisions when time is of the essence.

Steve Rhode:
And then there’s that magic dust that I always call it’s the relationship that you had with your flight instructor and the hours that you spent kind of hanging out at the airport, talking with other pilots, you know, you, you, you learn so much from talking to people who had already had 10 years experience and who had made mistakes, and when you something up, they would sit there and make you feel stupid because they go, Oh, Steve, but you always learned.

Jim Moore:
Yeah. And that’s, that’s something we often say in, you know, in the AOPA world, you have a good pilot is always learning. The definition of being a good pilot is, uh, one of my colleagues wants described himself as a 17,000 hour student pilot, uh, which is a really good attitude to have, because if you think, you know, everything, you’re setting yourself up for trouble, uh, you are, you’re, you’re much more likely to make a mistake, uh, much more likely to make the wrong decision under pressure. So that’s what we’re, you know, most of what pilot training is really about is teaching you a way to think. And as you referred to the, the conversations at the airport with other pilots, I’ve had the benefit of having, I think there’s 36 different CFIs in my log book, uh, over 550 hours. And partly, you know, there’s a real benefit to that because they all have a different perspective, different sets of experiences.

Jim Moore:
And I learned something different from each of them. So it layers, one layer adds to another, and it, it really it’s, I wouldn’t recommend it necessarily that everyone would go out and do that. That particular thing is that way. But I do recommend that if you, whatever you fly, it’s useful. It’s great to just sit and chat with other pilots who fly the same thing, because they will have dealt with situations you did not. And you, you, you can, it’s a lot better to learn from other people’s mistakes and to, to go out and make your own.

Steve Rhode:
And in this world of drones where people can just go to Amazon or wherever and buy a drone, they’re just learning by themselves for the first time with no support. So everybody’s kind of learning the hard lessons themselves.

Jim Moore:
That’s really tough. It’s kind of like the, the early days of aviation, I read an anecdote once about the Wright brothers, uh, teaching some of the first pilots to fly through the mail. They would exchange letters, uh, and describe, you know, how you fly an airplane that way. And it led to a lot of crashes, as you might imagine, uh, you know, some, some do well, um, you know, learning on their own, um, others, not, not as much. And so it’s, you know, again and DJI and not to single them out, but they are whatever 80% of the world market, but any drone manufacturer, none of them are gonna really give you, um, a detailed, um, look at every element of there’s a lot that goes into these aircraft that we don’t know about if they don’t tell us about, um, a lot of things you have to learn the hard way.

Jim Moore:
Uh, and it’s not in their interests. Remember that their interest is in selling aircraft. You know, they are also interested in safety. And so far as they don’t want people doing blatantly awful things that, that lead to some huge crackdown. So, you know, they do have some skin in the game if you will, that way. But, um, they’re not, I, I, I’m pretty confident that if I got, if I took my Phantom four out and committed some, you know, willful violation of federal regulations and got, got busted for it, DJI could not care less. It’s, uh, it’s not their concern. So with the, with the mindset of being a pilot, you know, you’re, you’re responsible for pretty much everything. And that extends to educating yourself and

Steve Rhode:
Earlier, you know, you’re, you’re responsible, uh, you have the total authority under, uh, CFR 91.3. And, uh, the other thing that you also have is total liability for your actions.

Jim Moore:
Absolutely.

New Speaker:
Right. So a great segue, you mentioned the FAA and others are calling the people who pilot drones, pilots. So what’s your opinion about how the FAA views drone pilots does the FAA expect less professionalism or competence out of a drone pilot versus a manned aircraft pilot?

Jim Moore:
I’d like to think not, um, it’s, I’ve had conversations with folks in the FAA about why they didn’t require a practical test. Yeah. Checkride. The, the, and there are, you know, the, the, let us say that opinions within the agency were not unanimous on this point. Um, you know, it was a bit of a compromise to structure things the way they are now, where all you have to do is, is take a multiple choice test. And, you know, in an hour or less, you can be pronounced a pilot without ever necessarily having put your thumbs on control, sticks, or powered up a drone. Um, so there’s, there, there is kind of that missing piece in terms of the requirements for certification. I called a missing piece because I think it’s important. Um, however, I can also see the other side of it, where you have so many different systems that operate in different ways that standardizing a test would be kind of tough to.

Jim Moore:
So, you know, does the FAA expect less of us? No, I really don’t. I think they do not. I think the FAA, his primary concern is the safety of the airspace as a whole. And they don’t, you know, preventing collisions, preventing accidents. Um, that’s really where the FAA is coming from and what they’ve, what they’ve prioritized, uh, not so much the FAA could not care less, whether you know, how to fly a smooth orbit and, you know, to take a, you know, a nice video clip for, uh, for a real estate, you know, promotion package, um, that’s not their, that’s not their concern. And that is a big part of what it, you know, in the, if you want to be a, uh, uh, a professional pilot, you know, w you know, if you want to use your remote pilot certificate and one Oh seven, uh, most of the work out there to this day is, uh, photography and video. Uh, and there’s a lot that, you know, we won’t get into, I assume today, but there’s somebody just to say, there’s a lot, you have to learn about cameras, uh, before you can do an effective job at creating a useful end product. Um, and that’s on top of all the things that you have to learn to safely operate the aircraft, which is, I think still the most important thing every time I fly.

Steve Rhode:
All right. So of these three things, how would you rate them in order of importance, understanding the regulations, aeronautical decision-making or risk management?

Jim Moore:
Oh, that’s a tough one. I would, I actually, I put risk management first, uh, because that’s, you know, if, you know, if I’m, if I’m honest about it, I guess I’m not too bothered. If someone, if someone flies up to 401 feet, um, you know, is that, are you breaking the rules? Yes. But is there a huge qualitative difference between 399 and 400, one feet? Not so much in some of the regulations, you know, are, are, you know, kind of follow along those lines, but risk management is, you know, separate and apart from the regulations, it’s about, you know, are you, are you going to be able to safely get an aircraft up and back down and whatever you do with it, in the meantime, you need to do it without harming other people or damaging property. So that’s, for me, that’s job one and regulatory con, not to say the regulate regulatory compliance is not important, but, um, I’d have to bump that down the list.

Steve Rhode:
Let’s talk for a minute about your, what I think is your favorite subject checklists. So I, I’ve got a couple thousand hours pilot in command in the airplane, commercial rated pilot. We don’t just go out in the plane and then jumped in the plane and push this on that. Uh, you know, even after all those hours, I still reach for the checklist. What, what is the importance of having a checklist and using it all the time?

Jim Moore:
Well, people forget and, uh, that’s everyone, um, drives me a little bonkers. I talked to a lot of pilots who talk about, well, I have a flow. And by that, they mean, you know, they, they they’ve been through the checklist for their particular aircraft a thousand times. And, you know, particularly the preflight, um, you know, walk around inspection of the aircraft. You know, that one thing does tend to kind of flow into another, um, you know, in terms of where things are located, the order, which you do things, and that’s, that’s all well and good until you, until you miss something. And, you know, I would, I, I expect that this practice of flow was probably involved in a lot of the incidents that, that done as trying to make headlines, but, you know, um, airplanes started pilots started airplane engines with tow bars, still attached to the nose gear all the time,

Steve Rhode:
Or cowl. plugs.

Jim Moore:
Exactly.

Jim Moore:
That could actually get really expensive. If the prop strikes a tow bar, you can wind up rebuilding an engine and spending tens of thousands of dollars. Uh, you didn’t have to, uh, and that’s, that’s fundamentally what a checklist is about is, is, is per you know, not missing essential steps. Um, and aviation is, I think was the first major industry where they were really, you know, widely utilized and embraced. Uh, there’s a book called the checklist manifesto that was written a few years ago that took a look at how other professions, including medicine, um, surgeons, for example, uh, started using checklists in the operating room to avoid making mistakes, such as leaving a pair of forceps inside of, of, of a patient, and then having to perform another surgery to get them out. Um, so you can, you can, you can take, you know, you could you using checklists and using them the right way is going to prevent a lot of trouble and it’s, and it’s completely worth the effort that goes into doing it.

Jim Moore:
I’d also want to just throw it, uh, you know, a line that one of my instructors, uh, burned into my head that a checklist, not a do list. And it’s an important distinction because particularly early in my career, I tended to use the checklist as a, as a prompt, I would, I would go through each, I would read the item on the checklist and then perform the task or check the measurement whenever it was in that order. And the more efficient way to do it in the more effective way to do it is, is to use it as a check after you’ve actually completed the tasks. So you can take a section, you know, you can take a section of the checklist, you know, everything related to the engine or the use of a drone, anything related to the batteries. And you can do those things, you know, in whichever order you want and use the checklist afterwards to just go through and say, yep, I got that. I got that. I got that. And that’s, uh, that’s maybe for some people or less frustrating way to do it. I think it’s more effective. Also

Steve Rhode:
The FAA recently came out with new, uh, Part 107 additions to the regulations. And in that big document, they also had what they proposed as being the sample checklist. It’s two pages long, and if anybody wants it, they can go to my site, PSflight.org, PublicSafetyFlight.org, and just search for checklist. And you can download it there. But you know, when you look at the checklist and go two pages long, there’s no way I’m going to do it, but I’m with you. Now, the thing that works for me with checklists, uh, is I go through the item and each item that I go through, I physically point at it. And it causes me to pause for a second and look at it. So I might not say the checklist out loud, um, but I look like a fool standing there pointing all over the drone or their cockpit or whatever, whatever works for anybody.

Steve Rhode:
Uh, that’s what I always think that they should use now in public safety. The problem is you roll up at a scene. People want you in the air right now, it’s easy to forget something, but one of those things might be putting in a low battery, not properly attaching the propeller, uh, you know, not setting up some other pieces of software. And especially with drones that are shared between departments, here’s something I’ve seen police and fire using the same drone guy rolls up to a scene, uh, takes off. He’s not aware of all the changes that the last guy did in a different department. And then he hits returned to home, uh, which should have been named returned to tree. So it’s probably Jim, I think you would safely assume that, say that it is safer to spend a couple extra minutes on the ground going through even an abbreviated checklist, the no checklist at all. I’m glad you brought that. One of my favorite checklists

Jim Moore:
In the, in the UAS world was, um, written by Joshua Ziering at Kittyhawk a few years ago, and it boils down to loose, juice and roost, and that will prompt you to cover the, the most safety, critical elements of a drone before flight. So loose means that you’re looking for any loose parts or missing propellers or anything that’s, you know, obviously out of kilter. And it usually doesn’t take very, you know, it’s, doesn’t, you know, I could probably do that on a Phantom floor and about 15, 20 seconds, um, juice takes a little bit longer because you actually have to power the system up and then specifically go to on a DJI bird. There’s always going to be a battery, um, page on the app, or you can look at the current telemetry voltages, um, for each individual cell in the battery, uh, temperature, that sort of thing.

Jim Moore:
And so you, you know, juice means take a look at the battery, make sure it’s properly charged, uh, as you would expect it to be, um, you know, and, and make and take a little bit deeper dive just to see if you spot anything, any anomalies, uh, you shouldn’t see wide variations between individual cells. So as long as every, as long as the green bars are all about the same height, you can have some level of confidence that, that your battery’s in good shape roost is reus covers that return to home scenario. Uh, so roost is about asking yourself the question, if I lose telemetry with the, you know, between my controller and the drone what’s going to happen, what’s the, what is the fail safe? Uh, that’s, pre-programmed some, and it generally defaults to return to home, uh, across most manufacturers, but not always, sometimes it’s also a setting that can be changed.

Jim Moore:
So if you’re using a equipment that somebody else has been handling, uh, since you last flew at yourself worth looking into whether do they change that, you know, return to home, to hover in place until the battery runs out right?

Steve Rhode:
Or they set a home point was,

Jim Moore:
Exactly, so, so roost is about, you know, setting the, you know, setting it up so that any events that, that returned to home fail-safe kicks in either by, you know, activating it yourself or the aircraft does it because it loses contact with your, your ground control station, then you want to have that, uh, behavior, you know, I usually set mine to climb to, uh, the estimated height of the tallest nearby obstacle trees or whatever, plus 50 feet.

Steve Rhode:
Thank you.

Jim Moore:
And, and then, um, that the rest, uh, you know, I’m happy to let it, you know, return returned to home.

Jim Moore:
I also pay attention to, um, you know, making sure the landing zone is not, I like my landing zones to be as far as I can get them away from trees and obstacles, just because that, that return to home behavior, uh, is subject to, to error, uh, in GPS error can, can be unpredictable. It can, it can, you know, you can have, you can lose contact with satellites, even in the middle of a flight. You can. So the, the location accuracy can degrade for all host of reasons that are beyond your control. So I like to have a nice cushion assuming that, you know, this returned to home behavior, it will try to land on the exact point that it, it took off from, but it might be up to 50 feet off or even more, uh, depending on the circumstances. So

Steve Rhode:
Even with experienced pilots, here’s something that I love to do is, um, they’ve been flying for a long time. They’re very confident with their aircraft. And I asked them to hand me the controller and turn their back on the aircraft face me, I’m watching the aircraft now, and I turn the controller off and they never dealt with that before.

Jim Moore:
That’s another thing that we get in the, in the mandate aviation world is, um, you know, the, the flight in every private pilot with a certificate has at least probably 10 times, uh, or more, uh, but at least once had, uh, had a flight instructor, uh, surprise them by my pulling the throttle all the way back and saying in announcing, you just lost your engine and you’re supposed to figure out what to do next from there. So those kinds of surprises are really, really effective, uh, teaching and learning tools.

Steve Rhode:
So, I mean, this is one of those things I learned early on from experiences. The last thing you want to do in a situation where you’ve lost communications with your drone is then wonder how does this work? So it’s just like pulling the engine, uh, when my instructor did that to me the first few times, I remember looking at him and going, come on, do we have to, okay,

Jim Moore:
Indeed, indeed. I, I, uh, I had one flight instructor. You typically these engine out, uh, scenarios, you, you, uh, you know, you get your engine back at a pretty high altitude, but, uh, I had one instructor, uh, years ago during my final, you know, approach to private pilot certificate. Um, we did, uh, we practiced an engine out and the chosen landing field was, uh, was a farmer’s. And I didn’t get my engine back up and running until we were right around the tree line down. And I saw a tractor, uh, right passing right underneath the wheels. And I don’t think he looked up, but, uh, that was, that was vivid. Um, but that he was a 27,000 hour, uh, instructor, and one of the best, uh, uh, flight instructors I’ve ever had. So I, I, I have, uh, I have confidence that he knew what he was doing and, uh, um, you know, we were, we were in good shape, but there is a, there’s something to be said for, uh, realism, uh, when you’re training for emergencies. And there’s ways that you can, you can do that, you know, with drones to, uh, also, uh, you know, training in realistic conditions, uh, that is where the, the real values add.

Steve Rhode:
Yeah. One other little tip is, uh, you got a pilot and you hand him the controller. You turn the other guy around the pilot, puts the drone someplace in the air, and then hands the controller back to the other guy and says, I just want you to look only at the controller, but point to me where the drone is because Jim, I, I taught a class once and a high, high time pilot. And I asked him, do not look up at the drone. I want you to go out and fly around that light pole and come back looking only at the controller. And he couldn’t do it.

Jim Moore:
Situational awareness is, uh, is, uh, oft repeated another phrase that we use a lot in, uh, on the man side of aviation. And I think it’s, I applied broadly. I apply it when I’m driving my car, uh, you know, situate, you know, it means, you know, having, you know, constantly updating your mental picture of where you’re, where you are, where you’re going and what’s around you. Um, and in that, that was very useful on one of my first, uh, one of the first times I flew a in inspire one over the Connecticut river in January with a nice stiff, I was flying off of a boat launch ramp with a nice stiff breeze in my face, and it was cold. And I, I got, you know, I was, I was having a good flight, nothing went wrong with the aircraft or the controller, but the iPad suddenly decided that it was too cold for it to continue operating.

Jim Moore:
And without any warning whatsoever, it just went black. And I didn’t even, you know, I thought I didn’t for panic for a second because I have developed the habit of every few seconds thinking to myself, what’s the attitude direction, you know, what’s the orientation of the aircraft and where is it and what’s going on around me. And that habit of constantly maintaining that situational awareness, uh, proved really, really handy because, you know, I imagine a lot of people that would have been, uh, you know, it was, it wasn’t like a pleasant moment for me, but it didn’t, you know, it, it didn’t cause me to panic and, and that’s, and that’s the other thing that you, you know, that you really have to learn in aviation is, is how to process, you know, change like that, uh, without locking up. So keep thinking clearly is, is always the best way to solve a problem. It’s never, you know, don’t panic and that it can happen with adrenaline because you do get your mind engaged in the flight. And a lot of the same ways that we do when we’re actually inside of the aircraft.

Steve Rhode:
Well, my rule in the aircraft is don’t die all tensed up.

Jim Moore:
Exactly.

Jim Moore:
But I I’ve, I’ve felt, you know, uh, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve felt fear of to, to some degree over, you know, issues like, you know, drifts flying, flying, you know, in a, in an urban area, uh, where you’ve got wind being channeled through tall buildings and the, the can be kind of unpredictable and you can suddenly, you know, you get Augusta comes along and suddenly you’re, you’re beautiful. $4,000 or more aircraft is heading straight toward, you know, a stone building facade. And it’s easy. It’s human nature to, you know, to, to be startled by that. And, and to, you know, if not, if not full-blown panic, right? He’s not think clearly what you need to do next. So the, the, the aviator mindset is, uh, is all about, you know, anticipation, situational awareness and, and figuring out what’s coming next. And if you know, you’re going to be flying in a windy day, uh, if you know, it’s windy, you’re flying in a, in a, a city downtown, um, and you know, where obstacles are going to be an issue and drift can be an issue. Uh, if you, if you kind of anticipate that it’s coming, it’s not going to cause you, you can skip the part where you’re startled and trying to comprehend what’s going on and go right to, okay. I need to give it some left stick and keep it away from that building.

Steve Rhode:
I have a whole bunch of other questions, but we’re just about out of time. So I’m going to turn back and I’m going to watch, I’m going to combine this all here. All right.

Jim Moore:
Okay.

Steve Rhode:
So going back to loose juice and roost, you’re a new public safety pilot, a drone pilot, you’ve just pulled up at a scene. There are 15 people there from three different departments, and you don’t want to be the guy that says no, or says I can’t take, but something’s not right. How do you develop that experience? Whether that’s aeronautical decision-making or whatever risk management, how do you get the, the gonads to say no?

Jim Moore:
Well, it goes back to 91.3 and what it means to be a pilot and the mentality of being you, you are the captain of a ship and you are the final authority on the operation of that aircraft. Nobody outranks you in that equation. You’re, you might be a, you might be a, uh, uh, a rookie, you know, provisional firefighter, uh, and the chief, uh, is, is the one, you know, demanding that you launch right now. Uh, well, I’m sorry, chief, but I outrank you when it comes to operating this aircraft, uh, has to be the answer. Uh, if you, for, for, for whatever reason, if you don’t think that it’s safe to, to start the flight, um, even if you can’t put your finger on why maybe it’s just your gut telling you that, Hey, something here is, is not quite right. Listen to that.

Jim Moore:
Uh, do not, you know, bad things tend to happen when you, when you ignore that voice in your head saying, something’s not quite right here. And it is a, it is, it is a well-documented fact that public safety, uh, pilots in particular, whether it’s the police helicopter, pilot, or emergency medical services, uh, doing medivac, there’s always pressure. And some of it is self-imposed you, you want to help people. You want to get the patient to the hospital. You want to, um, you know, provide the, the, the aerial Intel for the firefighters. You want to do the job that you’re there to do. So you, you, there’s always going to be that, that self-imposed pressure, uh, to get the job done and, and never mind, you know, if you’re, I’m going to write a book someday about air medical, helicopter pilots, and the pressure they can face, uh, to make flights, because from the company that wants to send out the bills to the patients in the end and the pilot, you know, a pilot has to be prepared to put their foot down and not budge. Uh, if, if, if the decision is to, if you think the right decision for whatever reason is not to fly, then make that decision and stick with it, and don’t let anybody talk you out of it.

Steve Rhode:
Have you ever gone out to the airport? Uh, and, uh, just said, you know, it just doesn’t feel like it’s the right day to fly.

Jim Moore:
I have, I, and I,

Jim Moore:
And I think some of the, you know, we, we, every flight involves a go no-go decision and I’m, I’m, I, I feel prouder and some of the no-go decisions, uh, that I’ve made than, than any of the decisions to go. Uh, and I, and it’s not that I know that something bad would have happened, or I dodged a bullet on this one, or what have you. I just think that my mindset is that it, you know, that’s, it’s a decision you should, you should make and not question. Um, if, if there’s any, I need to be convinced to fly an airplane. You need to persuade me to actually, and I’m a pilot. I want to fly. I mean, it’s part of my DNA, but I still have this, this mindset that you need to talk me into this rather than the other way around. So

Steve Rhode:
Here’s another way to handle that, that, that feeling is a commercial pilot friend of mine said we all have a safety pilot. And that just means we got a friend that we can call. He goes, Steve, just by talking through the situation, you will probably end the conversation going. Yea, I just heard myself nevermind.

Jim Moore:
Oh, exactly. Yeah. That’s, that’s, that’s happened to me quite a lot. And the just articulating the decision, you know, putting it into words is, is, will help you think it through, uh, even as you’re talking and, and you’re right. Usually, you know, the, the correct decision you do enough thinking, and the correct is going to become pretty clear, um, whatever the, the, the particulars of, of the scenario or the situation. A lot of this is about thinking it through. And that, that all tie back to, you know, you talked about not wanting to, you know, as a, as a manned aircraft pilot, not wanting to talk down to, uh, remote pilots, drone pilots. I I’m wholeheartedly on that, on board with that. I think that I, it drives me nuts when I see in social media and other places, you know, people making fun of remote pilots.

Jim Moore:
So, you know, you’re, you’re, you’re something as if they were somehow something less, they are every bit as a remote pilot is every bit as responsible for, for the aircraft as any other pilot. The fact that you don’t happen to have people on board also doesn’t mean that you don’t have the opportunity to kill somebody, if you think a really bad decision, uh, cause uh, you know, even a five pound drone falling from sufficient height becomes a lethal. Uh, so if things don’t go your way, you know, there’s a lot that the consequences can be steep. Even if the aircraft is cheap,

Steve Rhode:
You can still be great pilot and just not know what you don’t know.

Jim Moore:
Right.

Jim Moore:
Right. And so, and, and, and the other aspect is I, my biggest mission with, with the work that I do at AOPA is to promote a safety culture within the unmanned aircraft community. That is that mirrors, that parallels the safety culture that has taken decades to evolve, but has gotten to a pretty good place, uh, for, for the, for the manned operations. And that’s, that’s all about, you know, what that really means is that everybody believes that safety is important and everybody believes that, you know, we need to constantly be working to improve. We need to pay attention to details and think about what we’re doing, uh, before we do it. And, and if that’s that culture, that mindset, um, you know, when it’s a community thing, we’ll, we’ll lift all of us up and help keep the, you know, so far unmanned deviation as a really good safety record. If you look at an, in terms of loss of life, I’m not aware of any, uh, unmanned aircraft incident that has led to loss of life yet doesn’t mean that the potential is not there, but so far knock on wood. Uh, we’ve been, we’ve done pretty well, despite, you know, some outliers, you know, some bad behavior. You don’t have to search hard on YouTube to see some pretty, uh, ugly, ugly stuff, but

Steve Rhode:
People will do unfortunate things and then post the video of them doing it.

Jim Moore:
Yes, they will. But the, if we have a, if we, if we can, if we can grow and develop and foster and maintain a safety culture in the unmanned side of the aviation world, I think that is well more than anything, more than regulations, more than, you know, even insurance requirements and why not the, the, the mindset of being a safe pilot and, and being responsible and, and thinking things through, I think is going to do the most, uh, to help us all and, and help, you know, the industry continue to grow because, you know, that’s another aspect is, you know, being responsible to the, to the wider community, uh, is, is an aspect of that. If we, you know, God forbid somebody, you know, causes a major incident, uh, it’s going to have implications for every remote pilot. Uh, the first time, you know, something truly terrible happens, you know, will set us back. Uh, but if we all work on the same, you know, for that same, toward that same mindset of, of being conscientious and responsible

Steve Rhode:
And professional, uh, that’s going to be, uh, that’s going to keep us on the right path. I think Jim we’ve gone way long, but I still have a whole bunch of questions to ask you. So we’re going to have to do another podcast because you’re, you’re, you know, whenever I hear your name, generally, somebody says you’re full of it, but we’ve been talking today with Jim Moore. He is the, uh, AOPA drone. What is it? Drone news or drone AIP, a drone pilot is the drone pilot, uh, section of the site. AOPA is the aircraft owners and pilots association. It is the largest association of pilots in the world. Uh, Jim is editor extraordinaire and, um, a very good guy. So thank you, Jim.

Jim Moore:
Thank you, Steve way too much credit. I appreciate it. Look forward to talking to you again.

Outro:
Hi, this is Steve road, your friendly chief pilot here at the public safety flight website. Be sure to visit PS flight.org to get in on my private email list, read all the latest posts or ask me all of your public safety, drone questions. That’s PS flight.org. Or if that trips you up, you can land in the right place by using public safety flight.org.

About Steve Rhode

The Public Safety Flight website is dedicated to news, honest information, tips, and stories about the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), UAVs, aircraft, and drones in the fire service and other public safety niches.The site was founded by Steve Rhode, an FAA-certificated airplane commercial and instrument certificated pilot and a very experienced Part 107 UAS commercial pilot. Steve is the Chief Pilot with the Wake Forest Fire Department and the North Carolina Public Safety Drone Academy. He also provides expert advice to drone pilots through Homeland Security Information Network and he is an FAA Safety Team drone expert. Steve loves to work closely with public safety pilots to answer questions and share information, real-world truth, and drone operation advice. You can contact Steve here, learn more about Steve here, or join his public safety pilot private email list here.

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