Priorities: “Maintaining aircraft control”

  • Published
  • By by Col. Stephanie W. Williams, Commander, 349th Operations Group
  • 349 AMW
Last week, as I prepared for an upcoming deployment, I scrambled around the base trying to get my gear assembled and training completed. I arrived at the P-1 warehouse where the professional supply and logistics Airmen always take great care of us. In my hectic and task-saturated mental fog, I was instantly reminded about priorities. The P-1 Airmen helped me remember that, because they reminded me that people are ALWAYS a high priority. They brightened my busy day with their professionalism and “can-do” attitudes.

It is very easy to talk about setting and managing priorities, and much more difficult to actually implement that plan. One might think as we approach the holiday season, this difficult task will get easier. Speaking only for myself, I disagree. I believe different priorities do not decrease in number, they simply become different tasks or events in many cases.

There are plenty of ideas and tools floating around regarding prioritization; however, I believe the best tool I have ever been given is one I learned in pilot training over 25-years ago. It is very simple: when things are busy, or going wrong in an aircraft, the most important task is to fly the plane. Job one is always to maintain aircraft control.

So, what does “maintaining aircraft control” mean to me in my everyday life outside the aircraft? I believe the No. 1 priority for Air Force leaders is caring for our Airmen and their families. Because the P-1 Airmen were well-trained (one of them was actually conducting on-the-job training with another Airman while I was there) and mentored to succeed, they were able to contribute to overall mission success.

As far as off-duty time goes, again speaking only for myself, I believe I can “maintain aircraft control” by focusing my time and attention on important events with friends and family, being fully present, and avoiding pre-occupation with work over the holidays.

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, I see an outstanding opportunity to focus on and express gratitude for people—the people we work with, and the friends and family who we spend our off-duty time with. If you look up the history of the Thanksgiving holiday, you will see a myriad of reasons we celebrate every year in late November. No matter which iteration of the holiday’s history you choose, you will find our American forefathers wanted to emphasize gratitude for some success—a successful crop yield, for example.

This holiday season, I’d like to suggest we all commit to showing gratitude to, and for, our fellow Airmen, friends, neighbors and families. That is how I plan to “maintain aircraft control” to keep my priorities in line.

I wish all my teammates from Team Travis and the local community a safe and happy Thanksgiving!