There’s no question about it: Flying is fun. It’s also something to be shared and relished. One of the best ways to do that is to fly and afterward enjoy shooting the breeze with your club members. This also offers fantastic opportunities for everyone to benefit from each other’s support, knowledge, and experience to improve skills and safety. How? Occasionally, your club can seize those moments and turn them into meetings that include an element of pilot safety awareness training to foster your club’s safety culture. But where do you begin?
First, ask your members what they’d like to have covered in a safety meeting. Then put together a schedule that includes regular safety meetings and an annual safety stand down. While important, these meeting don’t have to be somber. Tie them into a breakfast social or hangar party to convey the joy of flying and promote camaraderie.
The number of safety meetings held in a year certainly depends on your club’s membership size, but each meeting’s gist and format should always be inviting, helpful, and allow open dialogue so everyone can share concerns, ideas, and been-there-done-that experiences without the fear of reprisal for confessing their mistakes.
Speaking of mistakes, it really helps to encourage members to share “Close Call” experiences and set aside time to review and discuss a club incident or an external accident. Especially something like a simple mistake—that if left unchecked could have led to a serious problem—can be a valuable learning experience.
Some other ideas:
- Enlist help—Ask FAASTeam speakers and other recognized aviation persona to speak at your event.
- Host a seminar—Use an AOPA Air Safety Institute Seminar—prepackaged with speaker notes included—available from ASI’s Safety To Go portal.
- Provide safety resources—Remind members to regularly participate in FAA Wings and review AOPA Air Safety Institute safety videos, courses, quizzes, and publications.
- Aviation events—Remind members of upcoming events like, for example, a local aviation seminar or fly-in, an opportunity to tour an ATC facility, or to meet with a neighboring club.
- Discuss technology—2020 ADS-B compliance may require an avionics upgrade or change in your fleet. Share the plan and schedule training sessions for your club members to become familiar with the new equipment before going flying.
- Review weather and notams—Discuss seasonal or geographical weather considerations and suggest resources to enhance proficiency in those areas. Also, review and discuss local and nearby airport updates (e.g., runway changes, planned airport improvements/construction, new FBO/fuel providers, airport obstructions, frequency changes, etc.).
Last but not least:
- The annual safety stand down—Require all members to attend and participate. This is the backbone of your safety initiative. Make it engaging, informing, and rewarding through tone, topics covered, and the quality of your speaker. This is another opportunity to discuss recent incidents, accidents, fleet or avionics updates, software updates, etc. Your members can also benefit from meeting with local air traffic controllers, airport managers, aviation weather specialist, accident investigators, and others who frequently interact with pilots. In addition, consider swapping conversations with other clubs and safety officers, and invite them to speak at your safety stand down.
If you follow these guidelines, the answer to the initial question will be positive. So, go ahead and encourage and promote a sound safety mindset and your members will have fun and fly for a long time to come.