It has always struck me how our impressions and visualisations of the history of war are coloured by the media that recorded it and the attitudes of those who wrote it. The Great War was, to all intents and purposes, fought in black and white running at 1.25 the speed of reality. What is sometimes difficult to appreciate given the power of this media, is that all wars are fought in Technicolor and full surround-sound with no volume control.
Hot is hot, cold is cold and tortured spinning steel has no respect for rank, title or script – as there isn’t one. To get the full benefit and understand it at a visceral level, you had to be there really, which in our case, looking at the these lives and times is impossible.
I am reading Alex Revell’s brilliantly researched history of 56 Squadron (Revell, 1995) and his story of the short life of Arthur Rhys Davids, the scholastic RFC SE5a ace who flew with ’56′ during 1917. All this as background work for a closer look at Arthur Keen about whom little has been written.
As the years slip by time speeds up, we must all be aware of that, even if we haven’t seen it. One of the things this allows you to do as you get more ‘senior’ is look back on the way the fate and opportunity’s cards fell for you, how you played them. What you can’t see of course is how the deck is stacked or where sleight of hand bent your fortune. On our way across our blue planet’s Atlantic Ocean a tale was recounted to me, one perhaps all to familiar to many of the way new entrants are being ‘assisted’ into our ranks. I refer of course to professional aviation and I reflect on my good fortune as I write of this tawdry situation.
Flight training for a professional licence has always been expensive, scrape together the £100k (US $162k) and you are well on your way, the extras, like many things in life and if you are being honest with your calculator, can double that figure as you ride from tyro into the right had seat of a Boeing or an Airbus of any size. How then should we regard those training organizations who ‘facilitate’ the transition from their light twins into the airline system?
I shouldn’t be doing this at all, I should be finishing off my TMA, Tutor Marked Assignment… but I just couldn’t resist a little recreational tapping. I’m at my hotel room desk reflecting on our approach into Newark last night and the way we were dropped down progressively to the north of New York during the intermediate approach.
Every airspace has its management requirements, that’s given, but we are living in a new world where we are told that fuel is getting scarcer and big strides are being made towards a conservation led airspace policy. So why the early descents that leave us thundering along way below the profile hosing unnecessary amounts fuel overboard? Sure, I know there will be an answer, but what about an innovative approach to airspace management that eradicates the wastage of fuel as a priority? After all, isn’t FANS a response driven by that objective? FANS works in the vertical plane, as well as the horizontal – but I guess a massive rethink is on the way… one day perhaps.
The clue to the process lies in the heavy white area around NYC on the graphic above.
The world is moving on, the pressure to train pilots is piling up on nations and airlines. Despite the economic woes we are all facing, they are churning them through in ever increasing numbers. China particularly is supplementing their undersupply with a steady stream of pilots from the battered US community.
Quite how that training is delivered is my point of discussion here. Face to face (f2f) methods have their benefits, but they are an inefficient and expensive way of delivering volume learning in a high bandwidth, networked world.
You may be enthusiastically working your way through the delights of Air Law, Navigation or Meteorology, but if you are driving for an hour or two to get to a classroom then doing the reverse at the end o the day, every dollar you slop into your gas tank is another you cannot spend getting nearer your license goal. And if you with an airline changing types on the company tab, the time and money spent on the motorway could be better spent elsewhere – our planet might breath a little easier too (the irony?).
Enter the Virtual Learning Environment – the ‘VLE’ There are plenty around, some good, some awful, but over the coming weeks I will be feeding into this blog some of the discoveries I am making during an Open University degree I have been working through since early February, an MA in Online & Distance Education (ODE).
VLE’s are not a magic bullet for all learning needs, they are simply a focus point for materials and collaborative learning – the new paradigm gradually sweeping its way through higher education. Within aviation ‘blended learning’, a mix of f2f and eLearning is obviously the way we do it.
If you have any comments or experiences to relate, I would be delighted to hear from you either through the comments facility here or via email. With your permission I will even use the results in my projects, either anonymous or quoted – all within internal, closed discussion groups within my OU cohort. Strictly not for external publication and no ‘creative’ use of your email address either.
‘Fancy sharing your experiences? Please use 777globalnomad at gmail dot com
According to ICAO Asia will be short of 9000 pilots per year in the next decade.There is enough capacity to train 5000 per year but the industry will need 14000, hence the shortfall. In total ICAO predicts that Asia will need 229,676 pilots over the next 20 years-a significant increase from the total of 50,344 in 2010.
The latest add campaign (initially) had us shuffling in our seats slightly, the voiceover is a little… I loved the historical reconstructions, the biplanes and the references to the ascent of the transport links, the routes that span the globe serving all humanity. In fact, I think its fair to say that the majority of the narrative could refer to all of those who have gone before us, everywhere on the planet. Every airline, every country – I see this as a celebration of commercial flight.
It occurred to me that if you have kids who are challenged by maths, this might be an opportunity for them to shine rather than struggle. As I write this Khan Academy is being featured on BBC Click. Spooky!
Sal Khan has a unique approach to education and elearning. His Ted talk is another example of someone with a mission backed by a formidable intellect. He shows us at a stroke how elearning intertwined with a powerful LMS can bring unparalleled access to an education to anyone with the most basic of e-tools. Better than that, he opens the door on transforming education by making every moment of a teachers time count where it is needed most.
Just look at the spread of subject matter available and the tools employed!