Pilot or Passenger?

Pilot or Passenger?

Flight, Individual Greatness, Leadership, Personal Value, Vector
A-10 Control Stick During pilot training, one of the instructors in the T-37 was notorious for grabbing the student’s oxygen hose and squeezing it to cut off the supply of oxygen.  While doing so, he would ask, “Are you a pilot, or passenger?”  While teaching formation flight, he was particularly sadistic.  When his student had trouble getting into position right off of the fingertip of their flight lead only a few feet away, he would again grab his student’s oxygen mask and say, “Get in position!  No fingertip, no oxygen!” There may be better ways to teach, but this instructor's madness worked.  Fear and a little bit of panic drove his students to get in position, take control of the aircraft, and learn how to be a pilot instead of a passenger. I spent quite…
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True Measure of Greatness

True Measure of Greatness

Armed Service, Excellence, Friendship, Individual Greatness, Leadership, Priorities, Veterans
I recently attended the Memorial Service of W. Parker Greene of Valdosta, Georgia.  A former Army Corporal, furniture businessman and father/husband from an obscure Southern town, anyone who did not know him is sure to wonder why the highest ranking officer in the United States Air Force, the Mayor, State Chief of the Highway Patrol and a number of other dignitaries, including over 3,000 people, would show up to celebrate the life of this 87-year old Southern Gentleman.  And therein lies the secret of greatness of Parker.               Parker did not hail from any powerful family.  He was not a great business leader who commanded millions of dollars.  He was not a politician in any sort of way, as I never saw him disparage an opposing view or another person, and he sought no elected…
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Til the Last Breath

Excellence, Family, Hope, Individual Greatness, Leadership
“I can do this all day.”  --Steve Rogers, Pre-Captain America transformation, as he proceeded to get pummeled in a Brooklyn alley.   We recently lost our son to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy just prior to his twenty-fifth birthday.  Like all who are born with that disease, his muscles slowly failed, starting with his voluntary muscles, then lastly his involuntary muscles.  His heart finally pumped its last bit of blood on the 6thof October 2018, then quit.  But Andrew never did, not til his last breath. Andrew was 4 when he was first diagnosed.  We thought he just had flat feet, and wanted to get him some orthotics to help him walk like a normal little boy.  He was unable to really run, had a swaying gate that seemed to be compensating…
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Establishing a Personal Baseline

Armed Service, Excellence, Individual Greatness, Leadership, Military Affairs, Personal Value
I arrived, along with nearly fourteen-hundred of my new classmates, in Colorado Springs during the first week of July 1985 for Basic Cadet Training at the United States Air Force Academy.  My parents dropped me off earlier that morning at Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia, and to say that I was apprehensive was like saying I thought Christie Brinkley was kind of cute.  I was borderline scared.  My dad had been a cadet in the Air Force Academy’s first graduating class, and had shared with me a glimpse of what to expect.  I was not looking forward to it at all.  It was hard to say goodbye to my family, but what filled my mind were the…
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Beyond Training–The Heart of a Protector

Armed Service, Excellence, Flight, Individual Greatness, Law Enforcement, Leadership, Veterans
  Mass shootings are never simple.  Regardless of how simple determining a 'cause' may be, and how easily we are able to punish those at fault, no one wins.  Loved ones are still gone.  Lives are forever changed for the worse.  Justice and new procedures never right the wrongs, never make everything better.  Such will be the case in the Parkland, Florida shooting. In the wake of the mass shooting in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the nation once again soul-searches for an answer to 'why' and how to stop future events like this.  Many are quick to point a finger at the first sign of failure.  We want to ban guns.  We want to crucify the FBI for their lack of action, to…
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Unexpected Heroism from a celebrity Hero–Eddie Rickenbacker

Freedom, Friendship, History, Individual Greatness, Leadership, Military Affairs, Personal Value, Veterans
Eddie Rickenbacker was America's Ace of Aces with 26 kills during World War I.  Despite his initial rejection into flight school because of his 8th grade education, Eddie eventually became the leading ace, Medal of Honor winner, darling of the Allied media, and commander of the 94th "Hat in the Ring" Squadron.  The world knows him for such heroics, but they were just expressions of who he really was--a quiet, every day over-achiever who never took himself too seriously or forgot his roots. Losing his father at 13, Eddie Rickenbacker instantly became the man of the house.  The third of 9 children, but the one who felt the responsibility most for his family, Eddie dropped out of…
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