Even though I don’t have an IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) certification on my pilot’s license (in other words, I haven’t been trained to fly by instruments alone in clouds and lousy weather, so it’s Visible Flight Rules and relatively clear skies only for me right now), I do enjoy subscribing to an online series by PilotWorkshops.com that gives IFR scenarios and asks you to think through how you would handle them.
The current one talks about someone flying IFR when the alternator dies and they’re on batteries, which won’t last long enough to get to where they need to go. The need to start shutting down systems and instruments (“shedding load”) in order to stretch the batteries as far as they can go, while not turning off anything that they absolutely need.
If you’ve ever seen the excellent “Apollo 13” movie from Ron Howard, you might recognize a similar issue there. The fuel cells exploded, so the CM (Command Module) was shut down while they lived off of the LM (Lunar Module) systems. But the LM doesn’t have a heat shield and can’t survive re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. Only the CM could do that. But its batteries were so drained and limited that turning systems on just before re-entry would overload them and shut everything down, leaving the crew to die in an out of control re-entry. The backup crews on the ground had to find just the perfect sequence of systems to turn on that would let them function without tripping the system into overload.
I know the feeling. It seems it’s been month after month after month at work where it’s been one crisis after another, and now we have a new project coming at us like a freight train. (You can see a bit about it here.) It should be great for the organization, but we’re trying to do months worth of work in just a couple of weeks, and it’s exhausting.
Add in the fact that my work at the CAF SoCal hangar has been “exciting” all year. THEN add in the fact that this weekend is our annual airshow at Camarillo, so I’ll be putting in a lot of hours all weekend.
And on Monday, after that long (but hopefully fun!) weekend, the work event goes into overdrive, ramping up to a week where I’ll pretty much be working 12+ hour shifts every day for about seven to nine days.
I’m looking to do some load shedding.
What am I doing that’s expendable, or can be delayed or put onto a back burner?
And when I’ve done that and I’m still like the Apollo 13 simulations where I’m tripping the system into overload on every try, what is there that can still be done away with? And then, what next that I was sure I absolutely can’t do without but maybe need to reconsider and be viscous about prioritizing?
It’s not a matter of cutting fat but sparing bone – it’s more like, “How much bone can we truly afford to lose? And can we actually afford to lose 10% more than that? 20%?”
Damn, that Labor Day weekend’s looking pretty nice right now! But the only way out is through.