I’m a submariner, not an aviator, and there is a lot of friendly banter between the two communities about how they each do things differently. However, there are also significant commonalities, particularly when it comes to operating dangerous machinery, which both communities routinely do for a living.
Aviators, military or civilian, professional or recreational, perform “preflights” on their aircraft — thorough visual and operational checks of the equipment they are about to bring in harm’s way. Similarly, submariners have a litany of “pre-underways” conducted before sailing that provide a level of confidence that everything will work properly.
While it would be ludicrous to expect automobile drivers to perform checks on their “dangerous machinery” to the same degree as aviators and submariners before taking to the road, there is really no excuse to see automobiles, such as in and after the recent snowstorm, with windows, headlights and taillights partially or fully obscured with packed snow or with large sheets of snow and ice flying off the roof to strike other vehicles. Even during fair weather, the realization that a headlight, taillight or directional is burned out should be noted not only on the next mandated safety inspection by a state agency, but some appreciation should be given to the fact that the primary purpose of headlights is to be seen, not to see. A good rule of thumb is that if you don’t need sunglasses, then you do need your headlights to be on.
Those who would chuckle to hear their vehicle described as “dangerous machinery” should consider for a moment that it and those like it are responsible for infinitely more deaths than airplanes and submarines.
James H. Patton, Jr.