Saturday, January 21, 2012

Back to Basic's

Back to Basic's

By Tim Ard, Forest Applications Training, Inc.

Have you ever had an experience that after it you said, “Duh, how dumb”, to yourself?

I have always been one to instruct others about the importance of the basics. Planning and execution of the basics usually achieves better results, safely and more productively. As an educator in the field of chainsaw applications and safety I feel more and more everyday that this is most important.

Well, as usual when I get busy doing something I have done over and over or have successfully accomplished in the past, I tend to get a little complacent and skip the basics process. Have you ever done this? When I forget the plan, trying to rush the task, I find my results are usually not what I want them to be.

The past few weeks I have began a new education, something I have always wanted to do. I have thousands of miles and hours riding in commercial aircraft but I have never been in the pilots seat during flight. So, one of my life list items is to accomplish the task. I want to get a pilot’s license. I looked on the internet and found a flight school located just a mile from our new property in Rome, GA and contacted the company. The owner and head instructor, Earl Tillman, called me and invited me over for a test flight. After an hour with him, as I thought I would be, I am hooked.

During the first flight Capt. Tillman asked me what I do for a living and I explained. He started telling me about a project he had going on at his home. He was working a project to open the view from his recently constructed new deck. About an acre of Mimosa trees of 2” to 8” had grown in to block the view. They needed to come out… I agreed to help (to trade out some instruction time). I am glad I did as he has over 6000 hours in small airplane piloting and instruction but he was going to hurt himself with all the intertwined tops of these trees and vine cover. He is amazingly very good with a chainsaw bucking and limbing though! His South GA upbringing (raising) gave him a few hours good training.

During breaks, in what turned out to be a part time three day project, I gave him some instruction in felling. How to notch and back cut after taking information. Putting these weed trees right where you want them to finish the bucking and limbing. He caught on very quickly.

I have learned so very much from this pilot/flight instructor that began his piloting career in about the year I was born. He’s still going strong and again I mention he has taught me so much about flying. Then the other day, taught me something even more important about instructing and achieving anything you set out to do.

I’ve made just over 50 takeoffs and landings since beginning my flight training the week after Christmas 2011. At first I was so nervous, trying to absorb everything and keep it straight, but with a little help from Capt. Tillman, talking me through, the landings were getting better. Then windy days seemed to make it a little more challenging, but I was still able to get the little Cessna 150 to the hanger without any damage.

Around about 40 landings though, I found myself trying to drive the plane through the winds and get it to the runway. Wow, it turned out to be scary. The harder I tried, the worse I seem to get. I couldn't believe I was getting worse at landing that little plane rather than better. Capt. Tillman was there, ready to bail me out of trouble, staying calm and seemed unconcerned with my downward spiraling landing progress.

Then on about one of the rougher landings Capt. Tillman made a statement, as I was taxiing back to the hanger. He said, “You know, they always say that the trick to a good landing is a proper approach.” “Set up your speed and elevation, then line up, look down the nose at the runway and let the plane land.” Now he made the statement that made me understand how great an instructor he is. He said, “Not having it set up right is like trying to cut a tree without a face notch, just with a back cut, trying to get it to do what you want it to do.”

Now folk’s, that 55 years or so of flying just made him an awesome chainsaw instructor too. He just took me back to the basics of technique and instruction in just those couple easy, but profound, sentences.

No matter what you are trying to achieve you can’t overlook the basics of executing the complete plan! Now back to the training!

Good Sawing and Flying!

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