"County hangars via Foxtrot," I repeated taxi instructions to Ground Control after clearance delivery.
Then Ground said something that caught me off guard and I didn't comprehend.
"Say again," I requested.
"Forty One Mike, we were just saying up here thank you for always being prepared, saying the right things on approach, advising about clearance through Camarillo Delta, weather information, status, and just being ready - you really make our jobs so much easier and pleasant."
Wow - I was completely shocked. I really do take pride in my airmanship, and in particular my aviation communication skills. Go up one day, particularly in congested airspace like Los Angeles or San Diego, and you will understand what I'm talking about - what with all the garble-mouthed, gobble-de-gook, unintelligible broadcasts over the radio frequencies... how ATC gets their jobs done and keeps airplanes from hitting each other or other hard things completely amazes me at times.
My ego was bursting with pride upon receiving that accolade. I'll try not to let it get to my head...
But the truth is that I try to be as professional as I can flying Forty One Mike, even though I'm not a professional pilot. To me, however, flying an airplane is very, very serious business with consequences I don't care to test - this means being as good as a professional if I can, and I try to be.
Piloting aircraft is wrought with hazard. Even professionals get into trouble.
But being a professional isn't the same as professionalism; "professional" is a designation, "professionalism" is an attitude.
Aviation accidents are generally arepreceded by a series of events, and all too often those series of events start with the professionalism of the pilot(s).
A few days ago a small plane crashed in the Santa Ynez Mountains. I'm familiar with the territory as I fly over it often. It is rugged, and unforgiving - there's no place to land if something goes wrong.
That small plane crash happened to involve some nefarious characters, as far as I'm concerned, and frankly their "professionalism" is something I would call into question.
One of the deceased was passenger, Birger Greg Bacino, 56, the former attorney for, and one of the owners of, Premier Medical Management Systems.
Bacino pleaded no contest in 2010 to illegally acquiring workers' compensation patients (i.e. "capping") for Premier and agreed in 2010 to pay $380,000 as part of that plea agreement for a similar felony charge for purchasing patient referrals.
Investigators said he and David Wayne Fish, president of Premier, purchased more than 16,000 patient referrals from Walker Advertising, an attorney television advertising service. Injured workers who called the advertising service were referred to doctors who had a business relationship with Premier. The company would handle billing and collection work and charge a fee of at least 50% of what they collected.
Bacino was ordered to pay $210,000 to the California Franchise Tax Board for unpaid taxes, $150,000 to the Department of Insurance's Fraud Unit, and $20,000 in court costs. Fish was ordered to pay $390,000 in unpaid taxes, $750,000 to cover the Insurance Department's expenses and $20,000 in court costs.
As part of the plea deal, Premier agreed to dismiss a consolidated case with more than 1,000 lien claims totaling $70 million.
The 58-year-old pilot was David Martz, who also died.
Marz was known in the aviation community as not having high regard for rules.
Martz has had his pilot's license suspended or revoked four times since 1986, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. And in 2009, his license was revoked after he filmed a porn star performing oral sex on him while he flew a helicopter over San Diego.
The Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office said Bacino hired Martz to fly him to and from a business meeting in San Luis Obispo.
I hate reading about aviation accidents, but my guess is that this was no "accident" and in fact, rarely in aviation is there just an "accident."
Attitude is a sine qua non of professionalism. The attitude of these two unfortunate souls was evidenced by their earlier trials and tribulations, in workers' compensation and in aviation.
We'll have to wait for the report from the National Transportation Review Board before drawing conclusions, but my guess is that this was no accident, but rather simply the tragic conclusion to a lack of professionalism.