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DON’T WAIT TOO LATE


He answers that question, when asked another question about past regrets. “I’ve waited too late on many occasions, in many areas, and this has come back to haunt me many times. One of the failures in my life is on a personal level, and it’s something that I think of often. The older I get, the more interested I have become in history, including family history. Both of my parents were born in the early ‘20s, and of course lived through the Depression and WWII...The Greatest Generation. Probably like most that lived during that time period, they didn’t discuss it much, unless asked. Unfortunately, I was going to ask for decades, but was always too busy. I didn’t ask and lost the opportunity to hear their stories. I know my father traveled back-and-forth across the U.S. on Route 66, and by train, to work in the Kaiser Shipyards, just across the Bay from San Francisco, in Richmond, California, during the war, and later returning home. He volunteered for the Marines during the war, but was declined because of a hernia that was found during the examination, but as many from that generation, he wanted to do his part.


Like most, being busy with life, I didn’t become really interested about his journey until my later years, and now both have been gone for over 10 years. Also, both were from large families and all aunts and uncles are gone too. It’s simply been a lesson of lost opportunities for me.” He next concludes with what well may be the reason he stays in his pressure-cooker career. “A lesson I’ve learned the hard way, regardless if it involves questions I wanted to ask my parents regarding their lives, or things I want to say or do to keep our crews safer: Don’t let things pass you by that you intended to do or say, or it may be too late. One never knows if one additional word or discussion could prevent an accident and save a life.”


A lot has happened since Bonham began in HAA almost 30 years ago, but nothing passed him by. “The pendulum has completely swung from the ‘80s,” he recalls. “There was little formalized training back then. Pilots were encouraged to find a way to fly and many were paid bonuses for each patient they transported. That was much needed money for a pilot; it encouraged taking off into bad weather.” He recalls one of his earlier jobs at another company: “If a pilot accepted a transport, the medical personnel knew as they went out the door that they better head to the aircraft — or for their cars. Man, if we still had all the mindset today that was prevalent back then, our industry would be having an accident a day.”


Bonham presents the Air Evac Lifeteam Pilot of the Year award to Clarence Carldwell.


Bonham has done his part with pride over the decades to reduce fatal accidents and those heartbreaking phone calls to families that followed them. He says, “Being part of changes at Air Evac Lifeteam to include aircraft safety enhancements is my greatest personal or professional achievement. We now have NVGs throughout the company, glass cockpits, autopilots, SMS, Just Culture (an active learning culture that is constantly adapting to improve safety), and eight new Frasca flight training devices.” However, Bonham believes now’s not the time to rest. He says, “I think one of our greatest opportunities is to continue working toward decreasing the accident rate within our industry. It seems we have made great strides in the past couple of years and are definitely moving in the right direction, and we need to continue this trend and not become complacent. It seems the safest we as an industry ever are, is the week or two immediately following an accident. It’s then that we seem to be most aware and alert. We need to always maintain that mindset. I just want everyone going home to their loved ones, every time their shifts have ended.”


Careful hiring is a key component to perpetuating the mindset Bonham wants. “One of our biggest challenges currently is pilot staffing, and this is affecting the entire industry. Year-over-year,


it


continues to become more of a challenge to find pilots, much less pilots that we want within our company.” What does he most look for in a new employee? Bonham states his standards. “We look for someone that is honest, that is dedicated to safety, and that strives to do the right thing in and around an aircraft when he or she knows that no one else is looking.”


Bonham discusses safety topics with each new-hire pilot class. 14 Nov/Dec 2017


It sounds like Bonham just described himself. But he doesn’t like heroes that brag.


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