Category Archives: Aviation Career

If you want to fly, you’ve got to pay the freight


Do you think it was a good thing that Captain Chesley Sullenberger had a flight plan on that day he landed US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River? Obviously, the flight plan did not call for an encounter with a flock of geese, nor a water landing but the fact that the good Captain had done the work required to file a flight plan, allowed he and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles to bring the flight to a safe conclusion.

Brian Tracy, author of Flight Plan: The Real Secret to Success, How to Achieve More, Faster than you ever Dreamed Possible, uses the flight plan as a metaphor for career and life success. To pilots flight plans are a required document with some basic information that must be provided to the FAA. However, to generate the flight plan, pilots must determine destination, alternates, weather, know their aircraft capability, winds, the condition of the departure and arrival airport, the required fuel, and numerous other factors – kind of like your career or life plan.

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction,” says Tracy, quoting Sir Isaac Newton (Tracy 2). Not only is this a concept every pilot learns because its the basics of how everything, including aerodynamics and the engine work, but its a fundamental success principle. Take action and you’ll move a direction. But find a direction – you don’t want to be as we say in the industry, “all thrust and no vector.” The direction you choose is up to you. Want to sit on the couch, you’ll move in that direction (well, you waistline will move in direction). Want to take daily action towards your goals. . . ? Well, you get the point.

  • Your life will be off course most of the time (Tracy 4); every aircraft is off course most of the time – staying on course requires constant course corrections, sometimes it means circumnavigating (that means going around) a storm
  • Make sure goals are achievable, you can stretch them out later (Tracy 19). Want to be a millionaire but have never made more than $5, 000 in a year in your life? Then maybe you should start with becoming a “ten-thousand aire” or a “fifty-thousand wire.” Once you’ve figured out how to pay off your debt and put 10 large in the bank, then start working on that next level. Want to help the poor – don’t become one of them (Tracy 21).
  • Successful people, like successful pilots (like Chesley) continue to develop options; pilots are always thinking about options – what will I do if an engine quits, what will I do if I lose comms, what will I do if we have a passenger medical emergency?

Tracy makes the point that achieving dreams requires work. He notes that according to the book The Secret” all one has to do to achieve success is to just think about it – which appeals to all the slackers out there – but the real secret is that there are not secrets. Success in career or in life requires work; in the aviation industry, we call this “paying the freight.” Paying the freight means doing the work – doing the work means building the skills – having the skills means being able to save the lives of 155 passengers and crew when the unplanned happens.

Tracy, Brian. Flight Plan: How to Achieve More, Faster than You Ever Dreamed Possible. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler, 2009.


Message to the Aviation and Aerospace Science Graduating Class Fall 2020 – MSU Denver

A message from Jeffrey Price, professor MSU Denver and owner of Leading Edge Strategies, an aviation security and airport management training and consulting firm, shares a special message of hope to the 2020 graduating class of aviation and aerospace science. To the graduates of the Department of Aviation and Aerospace Science Fall of 2020. You’re… Continue Reading

Who Should You Believe?

“The worst vice is advice,” Al Pacino in the movie, The Devil’s Advocate. For years, there was a rumor circulating around the United Airlines hiring process that pilot applicants, (if they were from out of town and staying in the designated hotel) could never be seen out of their hotel room unless they were in… Continue Reading

What is worthy of your best efforts?

“Aren’t there some jobs where it doesn’t matter if you’re there or not?” This was a question posed by a student the other day. It came during a discussion when I was encouraging my students to make a difference at every job they are at. My answer: yes, in fact every job is that way… Continue Reading

15th Annual AAAE/DHS/TSA Aviation Security Summit, Part III

The big issue this year continues to be the insider threat / employee security. Legislative staffers visited with industry leadership at the Summit about the various laws attempting to make their way through the House or the Senate, directed at improving airport security. A significant piece of legislation to keep an eye on is H.R.3102… Continue Reading

15th Annual AAAE/DHS/TSA Aviation Security Summit, Part II

Although the airport security industry missed out on meeting TSA Administrator Neffenger, the annual security summit did provide some updates on other programs: ● Status of Rapback: Rapback is a criminal vetting process that automatically resubmits aviation worker fingerprints to determine if an individual who already has an airport identification badge, has subsequently been arrested… Continue Reading