• TRUST BUT VERIFY. If air traffic control hands you a clearance, abide by and execute it as stated. But take the time to double check your approach plate or chart to ensure you and the controller are on the "same page.
  • TAKE MIDAIR COLLISION AVOIDANCE TRAINING SERIOUSLY. It is a significant part of any aviation safety program. Take the time to stop by your air station, squadron or wing safety office and read over the local policy. Then go back to your flight planning room and positively identify proximal airports and analyze where the highest potential for traffic conflict will be. The near midair discussed in the article happened on a corridor where lots of civilian traffic transits north and south just outside the airbase's Class D airspace. Make sure and look at any training routes or areas where you'll be operating outside of air traffic control radar contact. Consider also any agricultural areas that may have crop dusters operating on a routine basis. (While you're at it, take a look at the bird aircraft strike hazard info for your area; so you're just as prepared to avoid a midair with a snow goose as you are to avoid a Mooney.)
  • TAKE AN ACTIVE PART IN THE PROCESS. Like the number two aircraft in the story, if you're wing or element lead in a formation flight, don't just stare at the plane in front of you, relax and blindly rely on them to get you home. Take an active part in the process, and back up the leader in any way you can. In the example, the additional eyes and situational awareness in the number two aircraft -- and the intervention by Maj. David Smith -- likely saved his leader from a midair collision. Both scenarios took intervention by the aircrew members, or the outcomes could have turned out tragically.
-- Lt. Joshua M. Fulcher