Last night, I drove from my home in central Florida over to Tampa for a free safety seminar hosted by the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. Safety is number one when aviating, and as a student pilot especially I feel it is my duty to learn as much as I can about safe flying.
I have been to one other ASF seminar in the past; in November or December I went to a seminar entitled "What went wrong?" which focused on the causes of fatal accidents*. The seminar hosted in Tampa last night was entitled "10 Things Other Pilots Do Wrong," and it focused on the unsafe or annoying habits of other flyers that can affect your safety and the public's perception of General Aviation.
I arrived at the seminar at about 7, turned my registration card in at the door (registration is free--no excuse not to go!), and found a seat just in time to see the beginnings of the seminar. I relaxed, sat back, and absorbed the knowledge as best I could.
Halfway through the seminar, we took a ten-minute break. As we left the speaker reminded us that there would be door prizes given away, five DVDs, three copies of 2010 FAR/AIM, and one GPS locator thingy. As I stretched my legs I thought to myself, "I bet I could win a prize tonight. I'm feeling lucky. Maybe I'll get me a copy of the FARs..."
We returned to our seats, and the speaker drew names. Five gentlemen before me won the DVD, and two copies of the FAR/AIM were passed out. The speaker drew a card from the box, looked for a second, and then spoke my name.
"Hoi!" I surprised myself by jumping up from the seat and waving at the guy passing out the prizes. What excitement! A copy of the Federal Aviation Regulations and Airmans Information Manual for 2010, all mine, for free! I hardly ever win anything, so I was very excited.
I know that not many normal people would be excited by a copy of the legislation that permits their hobby to exist, but dang it, I'm not that normal to begin with. Reading the FARs is maybe a little dry, but knowing what you're permitted to do is vital in this modern age, and the Airman's Information Manual has a lot of great material inside it.
I, for one, am thrilled with my new gift and am grateful to the ASF for handing it over to me.
*Hint: the human factor is the common denominator. Pilots who choose to fly in unsafe conditions, pilots who let themselves run out of options, and pilots who push themselves beyond the limits of what they can safely do in the cockpit tend to be involved in fatal accidents. Humility and a firm grasp on your own limitations is key in aviation.