My wife and I were invited to spend a long weekend with a large group of ballon pilots. Camping with 30 or 35 friends is not that odd for us, however, when almost all of those people are passionate about a single type of event really makes you appreciate others peoples obsessions. Ballon pilots are an amazing group of people, furthermore, the systems necessary to keep themselves and their passengers safe are both amazing and reflective of good management principles.
I’ve been up in a ballon before. However, I never really had to be a part of the crew required to get the system necessary for my survival off the ground. To a casual observer the system looks chaotic. Tarps, ropes, wicker, trailers, gas, fans and burners all come together to keep the important part, the ballon itself, safe and begin the inflation process. More impressive is the order in which things have to happen, how that order is faithfully followed and by whom.
As a rookie, I was relegated to helping as much as possible, and despite the 15 or so people around who knew what to do, there is still a lot to get done before (and after) flight. A good pilot knows their crew and trusts them to understand their jobs, as well as expecting them to instruct the helpless people like myself to be helpful and efficient.
Namely, these pilots:
- Pick the correct people for the job
- Let them do their job
- Spend their time getting obstacles out of everyones way
- If they ever have a doubt, they double check and hold accountable
Regular readers will spot those philosophies as regular parts of my management blogs. Watching them used in a sport that has danger written all over it re-emphasizes the necessity to develop systems and understand their usage. Trusting your team to keep your project moving forward is important, if your going to fly in a whicker basket 1000’ feet off the ground, trust becomes more critical.
Lastly, I would ask that if your driving through rural Nevada any Memorial day weekend and see a group of balloons being setup on some dirt road, stop and lend a hand. The process is amazing to watch, and you might just get a ride out of the deal.