• Published
  • By Col. Creig A. Rice
  • AETC director of safety
When flying fighters, the call sign of the flight lead of the formation normally ends in the number 1 to denote that they have ultimate responsibility for the flight. The flight works together as a team to meet the mission, whether killing bad guys and breaking things or training to do so. But while there is a shared responsibility for success, the buck stops with the flight lead.

A concept that goes hand-in-hand with this and describes the personal responsibility of each flight member is that of "being the mayor of Cockpit City." This philosophy means that each flight member has the responsibility to perform to the expected level and is held accountable for any actions that don't support the mission or lead to a less than optimum outcome, e.g. personal accountability ... or more simply put, check yourself before you wreck yourself.

So how does all this apply to safety?

As leaders, we make decisions each day that impact those around us. These decisions can range from simple ones to those far more complex. Simple decisions might include ones in your personal life, such as ensuring everyone in your car uses a safety belt or not texting while driving (and ensuring your teenagers are not doing it either). More complex decisions could be ones at work, like what type of fall protection is required for doing maintenance on the wing of a C-17 or what type of risk mitigation factors are in place as you take a student pilot out on their first T-6 hop.

Depending on the situation, your call sign may end in 1, or you might simply be the mayor of Cockpit City. Either way, the choices you make have an impact on you and those around you.

As we move into the summer season and all of the great outdoor activities that we enjoy, please take time to put these concepts into practice. When your call sign ends in 1, take charge -- ensure the proper risk mitigation efforts are in place before doing an activity, and ensure that others you are responsible for do the same. If you are acting as the mayor of Cockpit City, take responsibility for your actions. Don't text and drive, don't drink and drive, wear your seat belt and hold others accountable for their actions.

In this issue, we have an article from General Rice (page 8) talking about the importance of mishap prevention and resiliency. Getting this message out to the masses is the epitome of a call sign ending in 1. On the other side, we have stories on car surfing (page 6) and texting love notes while driving (page 18) ... two examples of people who fell short of their responsibilities as the mayor of Cockpit City.

In Air Education and Training Command, the culture we create, both on the education and training side and the mishap prevention side, makes our Air Force the best in the world. And it all starts with knowing your role and doing your job ... whether it's leading when your call sign ends in 1 or personal accountability when your role is the mayor of Cockpit City. Have a safe summer!