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Call Sign – Chaos

December 3, 2023

Call Sign Chaos
As a pilot you learn many things very quickly. One of the first things you learn is that you are at the very bottom of the aviation food chain. Because you have no knowledge, just an ambition to fly you become a willing participant in feeding the monster appetite that aviation demands.
Shortly after my first “Discovery Flight” I succumbed to the bravado and swagger of a twenty something flight instructor because he had knowledge that I both lacked and wanted. He knew everything I was supposed to memorize and never forget. I soon discovered that most of my real learning would happen either on or near the yoke of an aircraft. The classroom cannot teach what the brain cannot comprehend, and I have always been a learning by doing person.
Then came a great instructor for my instrument rating! He was awesome and during the compressed 10-day process, I learned in 8-10 hour chunks what could have taken years because my schedule demanded more than I had to give. The same would be true for high performance and complex. Then came the fateful day where the decision was made to upgrade to another engine.
My first attempt at jet training was by any measure an abject failure. I failed the instructor and the instructor failed me. He was a young gun with an ego that would only allow him to scold me. When he did it was with questions like, “What did you do that for?” I froze because I did not know what I did not know and I couldn’t figure out why I had done anything!
Fortunately, I quickly realized the incompatibility with my teacher and sought out a more seasoned mentor. The switch was amazing. I didn’t freeze, he explained things and was clear without being condescending. My learning was progressive albeit slow. Then he dropped the bomb, we had to leave the home airport and study without any interruption. Jim, he said, either we fly, or you work, but not both! So we left Boise for Twin Falls Idaho where we spent two weeks shredding the skies. Truth is I was sneaking in work at night so I would not fall too far behind.
Then I was ready for my check ride and my F-16 fighter jock trainer said new jet pilots get a handle, a name or in the pilot world a call sign. Call signs are usually reserved for military pilots but because my guy had 27 years of military time, he had the credentials to honor me with a call sign. Call signs are also not usually very complimentary. They stick because they have a set of truths attached that typically reflect a behavior flaw or some other defect.
Jim he said, your life is complicated, you’re overwhelmed with too much stuff to do and frankly I don’t know how we would have gotten through this in Boise. If I were honest with you, your life is Chaotic and perhaps more than most people I have ever known. Your call sign is “Chaos”.
I was proud, humbled and embarrassed perhaps all at the same time. But I got a name and then I aced my check ride with a Professional FAA Examiner from Chicago! Welcome to the Flight Levels Chaos!
November 27, 2023

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