By Susan K. Parson, FAA Safety Briefing Magazine Editor
One must verify or expel his doubts, and convert them into the certainty of Yes or NO.
— Thomas Carlyle, Scottish Philosopher
The “trust but verify” maxim has been a conversational commonplace since the 1980s. But it gained a whole new meaning for me as we have worked to develop this particular issue of FAA Safety Briefing. Flying in bad weather of any kind — to include the storm system I’m watching from the window at this writing — requires reliance on, and trust in, the accuracy of an array of navigational equipment.
Like others, perhaps, I was somewhat aware before now that “somebody” at FAA had responsibility for ensuring the necessary precision. Having been around this agency for the better part of two decades now, I probably could have told you that the “flight check people” do that work. Admittedly, though, my knowledge of Flight Program Operations was pretty limited before now. As someone who has always loved both aviation and “behind-the-scenes” glimpses, it has thus been a real treat to learn about the varied functions that my colleagues in this part of the FAA perform to maintain safety in the National Airspace System (NAS) — and to enable those who use the NAS as pilots or as passengers to know we’re going to get precise navigational guidance without worrying about how that happens.
Kudos and Shout-outs
It has also been a pleasure for the magazine team to learn and share information about so many other functions that involve our Flight Program Operations colleagues. Their dedication, their passion for what they do, and their enthusiasm for aviation clearly came across in every conversation and interaction we had. So did hints of their apparently bottomless store of personal aviation lore. While production and space constraints limited the scope of content for this issue, I heard enough bits of some awfully interesting “there I was” anecdotes to wish we could all sit down over dinner sometime to hear more. We all hope those sentiments came across in these pages, and that you found plenty of useful tips on safety (e.g., flying around “flight check”), as well as interesting information on how your aviation-loving colleagues at FAA make so many contributions to navigation systems so the rest of us can take accuracy for granted.
On behalf of the FAA Safety Briefing magazine staff, I want to thank everyone in and around Flight Program Operations for their superb support and shared passion for producing this issue. Special thanks to Mary Ladner, who made the first contact with us last fall, and to members of her team — Mariellen Couppee, Terria Garner, Kate Knorr, and Allison Krumsiek — whose diligent efforts are visible in this issue’s content. Now about that dinner …!
Susan K. Parson (firstname.lastname@example.org) is editor of FAA Safety Briefing. She is a general aviation pilot and flight instructor.