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Why We Do This: The Origins of

Author: Scott Macpherson

During the first 12 years of my flying career, 12 young men I knew lost their lives. Kevin was the first. He decided to descend for a low pass, even though we had only just soloed and were to practice stalls and spins, recovering no lower than 2000 feet above the ground that his parents farmed.

While approaching the house, Kevin pulled hard on the stick in an effort to make a dramatic climb. He stalled and crashed in front of his family. The next morning, when I opened the paper, I saw a picture of the crash in the very airplane I was scheduled to fly that morning.

Over the years there have been too many such accidents, and in every instance, they were preventable and related to, among other causes, incorrect decisions and perhaps mishandling of the aircraft. During my first years of flying, while I was completing a B.A. in Psychology, it seemed that my two primary pursuits (psychology and aviation) were connected; I just could not identify how. Crew Resource Management was just beginning to take hold in the early 1980s, and this helped motivate me to try to change the mindset I had inherited: that a pilot was part of a solo act and that superior skill and judgment alone kept the good ones alive and successful.

Now, after over 30 years of flying, 25 of which have been purely on the corporate side, and having spent nearly two decades managing various aspects of business aviation, I appreciate flying with pilots who willingly engage in debriefings for continuous professional improvement. We have all kept each other out of trouble and provided safe, efficient flights for our passengers. was created to help everyone in high reliability organizations and professions prevent accidents and learn from mistakes. Whether we fly aircraft, treat patients, enforce laws, or generate nuclear power, let us do so with continuously increasing safety and effectiveness.


Scott Macpherson is the President and Founder of and Vice-Chairman of the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) Governing Board. He is currently Captain on a Falcon 900LX.

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