I was at the Wigram Airforce museum the other day, looking at the Skyhawk. I used to want to be a fighter pilot, I even applied and got to the on-site selection process up at Henderson. I passed the theoretical no troubles, and was in the top 4% for spatial awareness and reasoning, but didn’t have the coordination (apparently I load-shedded the primary task while completing secondary tasks) or the team presence (however, I was 17 at the time). Which was pretty gutting, so I had to follow my back-up plan and get an engineering degree.
The other day I realised that while the airforce no longer have jets, and it was marginal if I would’ve fitted in the cockpit of an A4 anyway, I’m still holding onto that dream. I still want to be in control of a complicated machine with amazing firepower and I’m now trying to create my own fighter jet within my engineering company. In a metaphorical sense of course, not a real fighter jet, well not yet anyway.
What is a fighter pilot? They are highly skilled individuals flying a rocket with wings, with the ability to drop in from the other side of the country, push a button and eliminate a small town. However, it needs to be noted that they don’t operate in isolation. They’ve got this amazing machine to get them there in the first place, a triumph of engineering over physics, an extremely complex machine with a multitude of complex systems working within it. And they’re also helped out by a team. They don’t build the plane, arm it, fuel it, maintain it, plan the mission, research the target, clear the airspace, and so on and so forth. Sure, they’re the guys that decide to press the button and fire the missiles, but they’re really the last link in a long, complex chain of hardware, systems and people.
So, that’s my dream job, decide where and when to push the button that delivers a highly targeted and explosive engineering solution, I want to be able to drop in to Cable Price or Fulton Hogan head office from the other side of the country and say, sure, we can be your engineering professionals, we can sort all your technical problems. But first we need to develop the hardware, the fighter jet and the associated support infrastructure and systems. And we need to develop our team, we all need to know what we’re doing and how we’re getting there. And it’s not that we’re not already doing that, but I don’t think we’re there yet. I want my air superiority fighter. I want to be able to say that our systems, procedures, software and tools are military in their level of refinement and application. I want to be able to say that our team is as well trained, and work together in a way that would rival a fighter squadron. Let me know if you want to help me out.