Head's Blog

Aviate, Navigate, Communicate

Unless you are an aviation professional or a geek, this post’s title may have caused you to raise your eyebrow. As a member of the second category (you may remember my first post comparing the evolution of classrooms and aeroplanes), I learnt this mantra while researching for the Flight Simulator Club I set up in my previous school.

Imagine a situation of a crisis in the cockpit of a plane. What is the first thing you have to do when things start to go very wrong? I had assumed that, like in all the first aid training I have done, the first thing you do is to communicate (shouting “Help! Help!”, for example). How wrong was I!

What I learnt is that, in such a situation, the first thing a pilot has to do is to keep the plane flying. Put it that way, it seems obvious, but the implications are big (and go contrary to movies in which the first thing they do is to call “Mayday, Mayday!”). Once you know that the plane is flying safely, then the next step is to set a course. During flight, pilots constantly update their alternate airport that they would head to in case of an emergency. Only once the plane is flying towards the destination (even if it is a river!) then the pilot moves on to communicating.

US Airways Flight 1549 (N106US) after crashing into the Hudson River

You may be asking yourself “Why is Gabriel thinking about this now?” The reason is that as the members of our community know, we had a spike in the number of COVID cases in our school community. We had to extend our quarantine space by renting two guesthouses to increase our quarantine capacity (with asymptomatic students or those with very mild symptoms going there). 

In a matter of hours we had to explore the venues, set up all the logistical arrangements (24/7 security, delivering of meals, access to the internet for online learning and so on), arrange a schedule of visits by our staff and transport the students as needed. All of this happened while also having staff falling sick with COVID putting additional pressure on the team.

I have just realised that it is time for us to send another update as we are in a very different situation. The number of positive cases is in single figures both for students and staff (2 and 1, respectively) and we are operating “in the new normal”.