When safety draws a crowd

I am fortunate to be based on an airport where there are many truly talented, well credentialed people who really want to make a positive difference. One of those people is Janeen Kochan, a force of nature who also happens to be a designated pilot examiner, an A&P with Inspection Authorization, and a heck of a nice woman. More important than that, Janeen is laser focused on the importance of safety in aviation. For that I thank her with all my heart and soul. We could use a few more like her.

Beyond the obvious benefits, safety is also critical to economic development at the airport, or anywhere else in your city for that matter. Nobody with any sense wants to make a substantial investment in the future, if the future looks to be excessively risky — where personal safety, not to mention the security of their property, is in question.

So it was with great interest that I saw Janeen take the lead in ramrodding the issue of safety on our airport. First, she helped to form a safety committee that reports to the airport advisory committee, which in turn advises the city commission and staff on issues that pertain to the airport. Then she took it upon herself to begin a series of safety meetings that would benefit the airport’s users by presenting guest speakers, and topics of interest and importance to a wide cross-section of the people who fly into and out of our airport, as well as pretty much any other airport in America.

The first of these meetings took place a week ago, and to say it was a rousing success would be an understatement. I’ve been to safety meetings that qualify for Wings credit before, and if the crowd nudged up over a dozen people, the organizers felt they had done well. Janeen, as is typical of her efforts, did significantly better than that. In fact, she packed the room. Thanks to the drive and determination of one very enthusiastic woman, 74 people came out to hear a discussion about aviation safety. 74! That’s a crowd. And with every one of them leaving that meeting with a little more insight, and a somewhat better understanding of how their flying habits can impact others, I’ll go ahead and brand that meeting a big ol’ success.

Now we’re talking serious business. Janeen has done the nearly impossible. She’s found a way to bring large groups of people together to talk about important issues, and share their stories in a way that is truly beneficial to the flying public as a whole. More important than that, the fact that she has organized these meetings and drawn such a large audience sends a message to the city’s administration that the airport users are truly serious about having a hand in overseeing the airport. By putting in the effort to carry this safety meeting off with such flair and commitment, the management of our airport now knows without a doubt that they have a partner they can rely on when it comes to making our airport as safe as possible. And that’s a partnership that city leaders will become truly appreciative of.

It doesn’t end there, though. Oh, no. Janeen Kochan isn’t a hit and run kind of woman. She has plans to continue these meetings on a regular basis. In fact, she has plans to make aviation safety such an overriding factor at our airport that pilots, students, and visitors adapt to a mindset that promotes safety, without even thinking about it.

Now imagine the moment when an individual or a business entity sets foot on the field with the thought of putting down roots in mind. When you add a pervasive safety-first attitude to all the other benefits of my local airport — or yours — you have suddenly added an intangible to the mix that makes your airport that much more attractive for investment, whether that investment is the renting of a single T-hangar, or it involves considerably more space and a larger economic impact on your community.

Safety matters. And the lesson in all this is a good one for all of us to take note of. One individual with a vision and a healthy dose of public spirited ambition made a real difference on my field. You can do it on yours, too.

Imagine the possibilities!

Jamie Beckett is a CFI and A&P mechanic who stepped into the political arena in an effort to promote and protect GA at his local airport. He also is an owner and contributor to FlightMonkeys.com. You can reach Jamie at Jamie@GeneralAviationNews.com


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