• Published
  • By Lt. Gen. DOUGLAS H. OWENS
  • Vice Commander, Air Education and Training Command
Springtime brings with it many changes; we change our clocks, the weather starts to change, and many of us increase our outdoor activities.

But while springing forward with our clocks to daylight-saving time is sudden and instantaneous, we should perhaps proceed a little more cautiously when it comes to increasing our outdoor activities.

We all want to take advantage of warmer spring days as many of us have gone the way of the grizzly bear the past few months -- hanging out in our warm, cozy "caves" until the weather gets more cooperative. So we're anxious to move out of hibernation mode, whether it be some outdoor recreation and exercise, or pulling motorcycles out of the garage and hitting the streets.

But if you've been dormant during the colder days, it may take a little time to get back into your battle rhythm. Springing out the front door without a warm-up and running five miles on your first day back could leave you in the hurt locker. Instead, do a good warm-up, stretch, and give your body a chance to adjust to the new routine. Or if you are taking your motorcycle out for the first time since fall, you might want to consider the likelihood that your driving skills may be a little rusty. Again, take it slow, stay focused, and let your reaction time catch up with your eagerness to experience the open road.

Believe it or not, we go through this same thought process in the flying community. Spring can bring some extreme weather conditions -- thunderstorms, rain, high winds -- and we have to plan for these hazards. We pay extra attention to weather briefs and adjust our flying plans accordingly to decrease risk. These same precautions are also taken into account in our ground-based training throughout the command.

If we channel that same level of planning and purpose and apply it to our daily lives, we'll be better off. Unfortunately, all too often, this doesn't happen. That's why you see motorcycle and sports and recreation mishaps spike in the spring. That's why you hear about people getting caught in flash floods, another springtime hazard.

Perhaps in addition to waking from our long winter "sleep," the "spring break" or "spring fling" attitude also comes into play. For some this means complacency or letting your guard down. Unfortunately, to others, this translates to adding alcoholic beverages -- in excess -- to their activities. And let's face it; anytime you mix drinking with activities such as operating a boat, motorcycle, all-terrain vehicle or any other piece of machinery, the risk of mishaps --- and heartache -- increases exponentially.

This issue of Torch features an Air Force couple from Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, who were at a springtime motorcycle rally when they were run down by a drunk driver. In one careless moment, their 4-year-old son was orphaned. We also have stories on motorcycle safety and how to train for a marathon while limiting your chances for injury.

We want to help you get your spring off to a good start ... because we want you to be here with us -- healthy and happy -- when spring ends.