Host: This episode is going to be full of good, bad, and terrible jokes. So a man walks into a lawyer’s office and asked him how much he charged. The lawyer responded, “It’s a hundred dollars for three questions.” “Isn’t that a lot?” said the man, “Yes.” responded the lawyer, “And what’s your third question?” I’m Paula Williams an aviation and marketing consultant with ABCI and you’re watching or listening to Contrails and Cocktails.
Of course, whenever you get too smart, aviation people together in a room of stories, we are going to start flying. And when you start mixing cocktails, things start to get really fun. S,o we wanted to create that experience of being in a airport bar in a podcast. So our guest this week is attorney and comedian, Jon Morse.
The Morse law group was founded by Jonathan S. Morse in January 2006. All work is personally performed or supervised by Mr. Morse using contract attorneys only where necessary and appropriate. Mr. Morse lives in Westlake Village with his wife, Leann, who is a citizen of the United States, Canada, and Switzerland, and speaks fluent French. They have four children, all of whom are fluent in French. Mr. Morse is active in rotary and is the past president of the Westlake Village Sunrise Rotary Club.
So, Contrails and Cocktails is sponsored by the Global Aircraft Group. The Global Aircraft Group offers desktop appraisals, expert witness, pre-buy inspections. The founder is located in New England, and he travels free of charge to anyone in New England with a situation that needs his services.
You may need an aircraft appraisal for an aircraft transaction and estate settlement, a divorce, a legal situation, whatever it is, if you’ve got a problem involving aircraft values, Mark can solve it.
Mark Parry is the president and founder of Global Aircraft Group. Mark has over 30 years of experience in corporate aviation. He has a diverse roster of clients. He has unparalleled access to professional resources which helps the organization achieve positive Returns on his clients’ investments and capital. Prior to establishing Global Aircraft Group, Mark worked for Bombardier in numerous capacities involving sales, maintenance completion, pre-purchase inspections. He is also employed by the Lockheed Advanced Development Programs, which are better known as the Skunk Works under Kelly Jonson.
Mark holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts in Management. He is also a Senior Certified Aircraft Appraiser and member of The Professional Aircraft Appraiser Organization. And he is a licensed airframe and powerplant mechanic. Mark also attended the Massachusetts School of Law in Andover.
So, this is going to be a fun podcast. I’m the only one in the room that has not been to law school, but I think I’m the only one that is still mostly saying. So, anyway, we had a great time talking with Mark and Jon and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Let’s jump into the episode.
Jon: The way I always introduce myself is I’m an attorney in California specialized in aviation. My tagline is, “If the machine has wings, I can do the transaction. And if it has one wing, I can do the lawsuit.”
Paula: That’s brilliant. Well, I’m Paula Williams with ABCI. We helped aviation companies sell more of their products and services and that was not nearly as funny as yours. I’m going to have to think of how to add humor to that so that was good.
Jon: Well, you know, I could tell you that I get so fed up with this networking where people asked to give their elevator pitch, and I think they’re going to the top of the Empire State Building.
Jon: And I just found people remember that.
Paula: Yes, one sentence is great, or even two but we don’t need a 20-story elevator pitch.
Jon: Well, the truth is, I stopped listening after about 15 seconds.
Paula: That’s a good number. So, Mark, how about you?
Mark: I’ll try to keep this down to a minute. It’s Mark Parry, Global Aircraft Consulting Group and master appraiser with the organization of flying adjusters, a senior appraiser professional aircraft organization. Expert in witness, pre-buy, and inspections. And that’s it.
Paula: Cool. That was about 15 seconds, that was pretty good.
Mark: Everyone still awake?
Paula: Everyone’s still awake. That’s great. Well, I’m really happy that you guys could join us for this week’s episode and I’m really happy, especially Jon, you’re our guest this week and it’s really always a pleasure to have someone on that is actually funny, an attorney that’s actually funny. What are the chances?
Jon: Well, you know, I’ve found that humor can be useful to diffuse a very tense situation at times. I was doing a deposition of a plaintiffs expert, and the lawyer on the other side absolutely hated my boss, I mean, hated him with a passion. And during the deposition, he was making really nasty comments about my boss on the record.
Jon: I was trying to ignore him and do my job. And then he started making indirect snide comments, I finally stopped and said, “Pardon me, was that comment directed at me?” He said, “No, it was directed at your mentor.” And I said, “But my wife knows nothing about this case.” And that diffused the tension and we were fine after that.
Paula: It’s amazing how it can sometimes just really diffuse a situation, especially with insurance and legal situations where everybody is just on the edge of their seat, you know?
Jon: On the other hand, I’ve had to learn to suppress my preppy sarcasm at times. I was in the proposition back east with a Philadelphia lawyer and he was being really pushy and aggressive, and I was trying to bite my tongue and say nothing. And then finally, objected to one of his questions and he said, “I don’t understand your objection.” I said, “I’m not surprised.” And I had to apologize to him during the break. I said, “You left yourself so wide open I just couldn’t resist.”
Paula: You left the door open I just walk through.
Jon: You got it.
Paula: That’s fantastic and I’m sure that serves you really well in those kinds of situations.
Jon: As my wife would say as long as I don’t get too snippy and sarcastic, yes.
Paul: Right. Exactly. That is funny. And you know, all of us have had the experience of where the humor just gets the best of us in a situation where we’re supposed to be being serious and it just gets worse and worse, and worse because it’s funny, that it’s funny in the middle of a place that you’re not supposed to be laughing. It’s like laughing in church and you can’t stop.
Jon: I’ve learned that the safe thing is to make fun of me, not to make fun of the other person though.
Paula: That’s always a good option. So, Mark, do you know any good aviation jokes?
Mark: I have some really bad aviation warm-up jokes for Jon.
Mark: Warm up, warm it up with some really bad. But anyway, when is the only time you have too much fuel on your aircraft?
Jon: After you’ve crashed.
Mark: When you’re on fire.
Paul: Whether or not you crashed.
Mark: That joke crashed. [crosstalk] The fuel’s[?] on fire all the way down.
Paula: Let’s try another one and see.
Mark: There’s three old deaf pilots that got together for coffee. And the first pilot says, “Man, is it windy?” And the second pilot said, “No, it’s Thursday.” The third pilot says, “Me too. Let’s go get a drink.”
Paula: That was terrible.
Mark: All right, well, it gets worse. Why was the little airplane [inaudible] to the hangar?
Paula: Because he’s been bad?
Mark: He had a bad altitude.
Paula: Bad altitude? Very good.
Mark: And should I keep going or stop? I can go all night.
Paula: Should we move on?
Mark: Alright, who built the worst airplane that couldn’t fly?
Paula: No idea.
Mark: The Wrong brothers.
Mark: The Wrong Brothers.
Paula: The ‘Wrong’ brothers. Okay, got it. I almost didn’t because that was really bad.
Jon: [crosstalk] [inaudible]
Mark: What do the aircraft mechanics say they like the most about their jobs?
Paula: They get to swear at everybody. I don’t know.
Mark: No, most of them say that they find it very riveting.
Mark: Alright, that should be a good bad joke warm up, Jon.
Paula: Moving right along.
Jon: As I told you, I don’t really tell jokes, I just tell stories. Sometimes they’re funnier in many jokes you can come up with. After I graduated from college flying with my passion, I actually own two airplanes. And my mother asked me if I’d marry an ugly girl and show her an airplane. And I said, “What kind of airplane?”
Paula: You didn’t ask how ugly? That’s what kind of airplane.
Jon: Full disclosure, my wife is very attractive. She [inaudible] on an airplane, but I did teach her to fly and she became a very good pilot.
Paula: Excellent. Jon and I fly as well. So, that’s a wonderful thing to fly together.
Jon: After working three and a half years as an engineer, I went over the wall and I became a flight instructor in a charter pilot. I really love doing that. But then, my wife… My mother was very happy when I decided to get a real job and grow up then went to law school.
Paula: Oh, my goodness.
Jon: So, I did that [inaudible] after 45 years, that’s become my career. And of course, after I graduated, I thought, “Oh, wow. Now, I’m a professional, now I have status. And but 20 years ago, I was visiting one of my insurance clients up in Seattle, and the claims manager introduced me to the [inaudible] he said, “Jon is our janitor, he cleans up our messes in California.”
Paula: That’s true. Not the best way to explain what you do but I guess- [crosstalk]
Mark: Where did the [inaudible]
Jon: What’s that?
Mark: Where’d you go to law school?
Jon: I started at St. Louis University. In fact, the first year I was flying freight[?] at night going to school in the daytime, and I thought that was great fun, but after that, I took a year off and flew for a company in Milwaukee, and then I transferred to Michigan, that’s where I got my degree.
Paula: But you’ve been to law school as well, haven’t you?
Mark: I went for one year at Mass School of Law.
Jon: It’s been a great career, of course, people have asked me what I do, and of course, my pet peeve is people take five minutes to say what they could more effectively say in two minutes, or two minutes to share what they could more effectively say in one minute. In fact, one time- [crosstalk]
Paula: I used to[?] in seconds.
Jon: I got a networking group where everybody was going on and on with their elevator pitch, it came to me and they ask me about why and I said, “Well, somebody asked me to describe myself in 25 words or less. And I said concise, and I sat down.”
Paula: That’s good.
Mark: I like him.
Jon: I actually did develop what I believe is an effective elevator pitch because most[?] people stop talking, stopped listening after about 15 seconds. So, my pitch is, I’m an attorney and I specialize in aviation transactions in lawsuits. If the machine has wings, that can do the transaction and if it has one wing, I can do the lawsuit. [crosstalk]
Paula: That’s appropriate. We did this in one of our marketing groups, we had a round table full of people having breakfast and we try to do introductions and elevator pitches in 15 seconds. And these are people who are in aviation, and it was harder than you’d think. We’re going around the room and everybody wants to go last, like, “I’m not ready. I’m not ready.” And a lot of stumbling and fumbling even among sales professionals to try and do a 15-second elevator pitch. So, it’s harder than it sounds, but very important too.
Jon: It took me a couple of years to come up with that.
Paula: That’s good. That’s a really good one. Cool.
Mark: Starting to mine[?] up.
Paula: I’m still working on mine. I’ve never stopped working on mine, but now I know I need to make it funny to keep up with Jon, so, we’ll do our best.
Mark: Yes. [crosstalk]
Paula: So, Jon you had some stories you wanted to share?
Jon: I did. Most people ask me, well you do airplane crashes. And of course, I never expect to be in an airplane crash, so what can you tell me that I can use in my life? People always say, what about me? I see people listen to WIIFM 24/7, what’s in it for me? And looking back, I started looking at the accidents, the mistakes people make. And what I discovered is that the same mistakes that cause people to crash airplanes are the same mistakes cause people to crash and burn in their personal and professional lives.
And in aviation, we say that the purpose of investigating airplane accidents is to find the cause so we can find a way to prevent the accidents. And what I’ve discovered, if people can see the mistakes that cause airplane accidents and apply it to their personal lives, they can avoid a lot of heartbreak, a lot of tragedy in their own lives.
I’ve actually put together a presentation in which I’ve shared with several rotary clubs and other groups and I’ve got a lot of good feedback, but yeah, some of these things really do make sense when you think about it.
Paula: We’d love to see it.
John: Okay, let me share my screen with you and see if we can make that happen. Can you see my screen now?
Paula: Nope. And don’t stress about time or anything else. We’ll just cut this little bit out and go straight into it and it’ll look really smooth.
Jon: Let’s see if I can figure out how to get back to share screen.
Paula: It should be a green button at the bottom of your Zoom dashboard. So under our hands-
Paula: Not yet.
Jon: There you go.
Paula: There we go. Yep, it just took a second to get there.
Jon: Let me see if I can…
Paula: There’s a menu item at the top called ‘slideshow.’ There we go.
Jon: Can you see it now?
Paula: It might be a little bit of a lag. I’m seeing the slides, but I’m also seeing the navigator on the left-hand side.
Paula: So, maybe from the beginning, if you hit the upper left-hand corner where it says ‘from the beginning’ and start slideshow.
Jon: There we go.
Jon: Okay, we’re sharing now?
Paula: Yes. We can start from here.
Jon: All right. Okay, so as I indicated, there are a lot of life lessons I’ve learned from these airplane accidents. I’d like to share some of them and demonstrate some of the ways that I found that people can apply them in their own lives based on what I found while I’m in my life.
This is one of the lessons I’ve learned is that if you keep making the same small mistake, eventually it will bite you. This is a case that I actually investigating, it was a lawsuit defended. It was a Cessna 320, just like this. It’s a simple twin-engine airplane. It was owned by a Navy fighter pilot. We use this airplane that travels back and forth to pick up his daughters for weekend visitations. [crosstalk]
Paula: Did they love that?
Jon: Oh, they did. But in this particular day, he flew from Fallon, Nevada over to Fresno, California to pick up his daughters. After he landed at Fresno. He picked up a full load of fuel. You got a left fuel tank and the right fuel tank, and the wingtips. You have four fuel to start with. And they took off and flew back to Fallon, Nevada. And while it was in the landing pattern, ready to land with his gear down, both engines quit. Instead of putting into a glide, he lost control, stalled, crashed, burned, and killed everybody.
And after the accident, we found out that the fuel selector was set for cross-feed. They were feeding both engines off the left tank. So, he ran the left tank dry, and that caused both engines to quit at the same time, you had a full right tank. Now the question is, how could this possibly have happened? This was a very experienced military pilot. But he made a very simple mistake and he followed through. Now, this airplane is a very simple fuel system. You set it up where the left engine feeds from the left tank, the right engine feeds in the right tank, you never have to think about it. But you have the capability to draw fuel from one inch from one tank to feed both of them. It’s almost never used.
Thousands of hours of flying multi-engine airplanes, I’ve done that twice and that was on check rise to demonstrate I knew how. There was absolutely no reason for him to be on cross-feed. In fact, going back to his flight, he had to have been on a cross-feed for the whole flight to run dry. So, we know that during startup, the checklist says, make sure that you have each tank on the main, feeding the correct engine.
So, he missed that item on the checklist and the pre-flight pre-takeoff checklist says, make sure you have the fuel on the proper tanks. He missed that item. So, we took off again, in cross-feed, and as he was flying to Nevada, he was burning more and more fuel out of the left tank. It would be a very, very, heavy right wing getting heavier and heavier. He would have had to trim that out. So, that’s another clue that something was wrong. When he got into the landing pattern, you have a pre-landing checklist as put your gear down, put your flaps down, make sure your fuel selector is in the right place. He missed that one.[crosstalk ] Several times before it actually bit him. If he had caught on any one of those times, you would have had a normal landing and nothing would have happened. [crosstalk]
So, that’s what happened here. But I’ve discovered that the same thing can happen to our personal lives. An accident investigator, I work with thought he had a good marriage until one day he came home, he found out that his wife left, and cleaned out her bank accounts on the way out of town. He doesn’t have a clue anything was wrong. And I think that’s because he simply wasn’t paying attention. I’m sure there were a lot of clues. She was unhappy, but it culminated in a disaster when she cleaned him out.
When I looked back in my life, I remember that when we married 45 years ago, our maid of honor said that in a marriage, the little things are the big things. And we forget that sometimes. If we take care of the little things, the big things can take care of themselves. If we don’t pay attention to the little things, they can come back to bite us in ways we could never imagine.
Paula: No kidding. That was a big thing.
Jon: This is another interesting incident. I heard about this one when I was an engineering student back in 1965. This accident happened in the summer of 1965 and it actually had a happy ending. It was a Pan Am 707 that took off from San Francisco headed for Hawaii. And when they were about 800 feet up, the number four engine, the outboard engine on the right wing had an [inaudible] uncontained turbine failure.
And it cut into the fuel tank. Actually, it burned off 25 feet of the wing like a blowtorch.
We know what happened because it was a passenger in the right side of the airplane with a movie camera filmed the whole thing. It just [crosstalk] works this way backward. Now, the pilot who is upfront didn’t know what was going on exactly, but he knew something was wrong. And it was something he wasn’t used to because now, he had a [inaudible] to the right, but he also needed almost full right aileron to stop the roll because he was missing 25 feet of wing.
Now, the normal procedure when you lose an engine is to slow down to the best rate of climb speed. He did not do that. He stated his proper speed and that’s the only [inaudible] he kept it from rolling over. He knew something was wrong, but he knew he was still flying so we didn’t change anything, and he managed to get back on the ground. In fact, he was so calm. He told the passengers, “Folks were having a minor problem. We’re going to have to take it back and land.” And nobody panicked.
Jon: Afterward [inaudible] said that if he had slowed down to the best rate of climb as he was trained to do, he would have crashed. So the lesson there is if you don’t have to do anything right away, do nothing until you think it through.
When I was a young lawyer, I got a really nasty letter from opposing counsel. And I sat down and I dictated an equally nasty letter, but then when I saw it in print, I decided, wait a minute. I’m just going to throw this in the drawer and forget about it overnight. Then I’ll look at it in the morning. And it was the best thing I could have done because it just would have started a war if I sent that letter out. [crosstalk]
Paula: Oh, brilliant.
Jon: I didn’t want to do anything, I had a chance to think about it. [crosstalk]
Paula: That’s the hardest thing to do though, to wait- [crosstalk]
Jon: You didn’t have a thing to do sometimes. Yes, it is. When I tell my clients when you’re tempted to send out a nasty email, read it again before you push the send button, ask yourself whether you’re willing to see this on the front page of the LA Times or a blown-up poster-size in front of a jury. Because quite often, we don’t have to do anything right away and it’s always a good idea to think it through. Read it again. Make sure you send it to the right people. If you get a really nasty letter from your opponent, make sure you forward it to your client and not responding to your opponent with what you really don’t want him to see.
Paula: Right. There are some high profile cases of that, where someone replied all to see [inaudible] [crosstalk] people way too much information.
Jon: It happens all the time. We call it Murphy’s Law. What can go wrong it will at the worst possible time. So, again, often think about it before you do it. That’s the lesson I’ve learned here.
Another lesson I’ve learned is that sometimes you have to break the rules. It’s one thing to follow the rules. it’s another thing to follow them blindly to the point where it can cause a fuel serious problem. This is a Swissair flight in 1998, they took off from New York, headed for Geneva, a rather routine flight MD-11. They’re in the air cruising along in Canadian airspace and they had a fire in the cabin. The cabin was getting more and more smoke-filled. And the captain decided he had to divert, initially, he was going to go back to Boston then he decided Halifax was closer, it was only about 43 miles from Halifax.
But instead of putting it on the ground, he sat up 15,000 feet dumping fuel, Because an MD-11, the maximum takeoff weight is substantially higher than the maximum landing weight. The idea is that you’re going to burn off your fuel, be at the maximum landing weight by the time you get there. When something happens in-route, you have to dump fuel to get down to your maximum landing weight.
In this case, he should have put it on the ground. Worry about the landing weight later. Maybe you’ll overstress the landing gear, or maybe you’ll have a little longer landing roll, but at least you’ll be on the ground safely. While he was sitting up there dumping fuel, the smoke got heavier and heavier, eventually incapacitating then crashed and killed everybody.
Paula: Oh, my goodness.
Jon: My wife is Swiss and we say that the Swiss are very, very rule-bound people. This common joke is at in Switzerland, everything is really required or forbidden. It normally works well but didn’t in this case. I remember several years ago in 1979, during Jimmy Carter’s day you may remember we had an oil crisis. Everybody thought we were going to be running out of oil, we had to save oil. And the federal government mandated during the summer that in order to save energy,
all government buildings had to be kept at a temperature of 77 degrees or higher. The idea was that you limit the use of air conditioning. The trouble is, in Alaska, they had to turn the heat on in order to comply with that mandate. And so, eventually, they figured it out rather quickly and they gave them an exemption. But this is a perfect example of sometimes you have to break the rules.
In our rotary club, we were dealing with a charter school in Watts, they’re preparing students for college. Many of them were coming from homes whether be the first to graduate from high school. The principal had very strict rules including dress codes. And one of the rules was no gang colors. He was very very strict about that.
One day, a student showed up wearing sneakers with gang colors and he went on, came unglued[?] he called the student into his office. He told him, “What’s going on? You need to change.” It turned out this is the only pair of sneakers the kid had. And so he made an exception, he broke the rule on that because there was a reason to.
So again, if you have to follow the rules, follow them but sometimes you have to break them. You have to know which is which.
Another thing I’ve learned is don’t get distracted by trifle[?] Stay alert. This was an Eastern Airlines flight that took off from New York and a December day heading for Miami. The flight was normal all the way through except when they got down to Miami, they put the landing gear down. They didn’t get the three green lights. You’re supposed to have one green light. One for two main gear, one for the nose gear. Those gear lights didn’t come on.
And so the captain thought, well, maybe I have a serious problem, he put it into a holding pattern over the everglades and they sent the flight engineer down into the lower compartment to see if he can see the landing gear. And while he was down there for some reason, the autopilot kicked off, and the plane entered into a very shallow [inaudible] general spiral and landed in the everglades and killed half the people on it, according to the pilot.
It turned out the problem was not in the landing gear. The landing gear was down but the 50 sent[?] indicator light was burned out.
Paula: I remember this story. This was horrible.
Jon: What’s the perfect example of how they got distracted by a trifle[?] And while they were getting distracted by that, bad things happened. I read that something like 90% of accidents in automobiles happens because the driver is distracted. And if we pay attention to what we’re doing and do not get distracted, we can save a lot of lives. When I was driving on the New York State Thruway, there were signs all along saying “If you get caught using your cell phone three times, they take your license away.” But there is so many cases where people are texting while they’re driving or even just answering the phone while they’re driving.
Paula: I know. And you think that other people get distracted, I’ll be just fine because I’m smarter than everybody else. [crosstalk] That’s true.
Jon: The truth is, most of the time we get away with it. It’s the one time where we least expect it is when it can bite us.
Jon: This is one that was rather personal for me, that sometimes you have to say no. And if you’re a pilot, sometimes you have to say, “Hey the weather is too bad, I ain’t going.” In fact, an insurance adjuster told me we make the big bucks for knowing when and when not to fly.
I remember vividly it was July 28, 1973. I was a charter pilot based in St. Louis. I was assigned to fly from St. Louis to South Bend, Indiana pick up a load of freight, and bring it back to St. Louis. I knew there was a line of thunderstorms coming in from the west. And I knew, if I didn’t get out ahead of them, I wasn’t going to get out because they were so strong and they were so long there was no way I could even fly around them. And while I was getting ready for takeoff, I could actually see them coming in.
I managed to get airborne, got turned around and those thunderstorms were still beating me up even though they were more than 10 miles away. It was some of the most severe turbulence I can remember. And about the time it got calm, it got really quiet on the departure control frequency because at Ozark F27, just like that crashed trying to go through it on approach. Ozark Airlines’ first fatal accident.
And of course, it didn’t affect me. I kept going up my load of freight and turned around. When I got back to Champaign, Illinois, I saw the storms coming in so I was going to land and have a nice easy dinner waiting for those storms to go overhead. And while I was there, there were several Ozark Airlines cruise waiting on the ground because nobody, I mean, nobody was trying to go through that storm.
Well, I had a very pleasant dinner, the storm went overhead. I had a very nice clean airplane, and I flew back to St. Louis not touching the cloud. [crosstalk] So, what could this pilot have done? This pilot should have refused to try to go through there. He could have turned around and gone to another airport. Wait for them to go through. Instead, he tried to push through and it was a really bad situation.
I’ve had cases where employees refused to do something illegal and get fired for it. I had one, it was an escrow agent working for a title insurance company and she got a home line in for closing. All the documents were signed by the borrower, but the dates were missing on a 3-day right of cancellation. She called the loan officer and told her about it. The loan officer said, “Well, just fill in the dates and close the loan, anyway.” And she said, “No, I can’t do that. That would be illegal.”
The supervisor called her and again, told her to do it. She said, “Just go ahead and appease the client.” And she refused and they laid her off. But she collected from them on that because you cannot fire somebody for refusing to do something illegal. Had she done something illegal, they would have turned around and come after her for doing something illegal. So, there are times when you just have to say no and you have to decide what’s the better thing to do. If you’re asked to do something illegal, most of the time, you’re probably better off not doing it and documenting what you did and why.
Paula: Illegal, immoral, or fattening I guess is the… [crosstalk] Well, fattening mostly, yes.
Paula: But illegal or immoral? Yes, absolutely. You have to draw the line for yourself because your boss is not going to be on the hook for that and doesn’t have to live with your decision.
Jon: Well, the fact is the boss, quite often will throw you under the bus.
We always say that people are like tea bags. You find out what they’re made of when you put them in hot water.
Okay, this is another one that says check your insurance policies.
You’d be amazed how many times I’ve dealt with accidents that simply don’t have any insurance coverage. We had one who was a doctor that owned his own airplane. He was flying at night from Bakersfield where he had a satellite office back to his home base at Santa Barbara. And it was a cloudy night. [inaudible] supposed to be in the cloud[?] but he was. He managed[?] to save[?] the airplane, but he cleared the ridge line by minus 20 feet by pulling himself and everybody aboard.
What turned out, was his insurance policy said he didn’t have any coverage unless he had 30 hours of flight time in that type of airplane, which he didn’t have to cover [inaudible] unless he had a hundred hours of flight time in that airplane. So, he had paid for his insurance but the insurance provided no coverage simply because he didn’t check his policy and follow it.
But outside of aviation, it’s amazing how many people don’t check their auto policies. Do you really have enough coverage for what you’re doing? Long before they do not [inaudible] call list, I used to get cold calls from Farmers Insurance company. And in those days no matter what your policy limit was if you were driving somebody else’s car, the liability limits drop down to the [inaudible] minimum of 15,000 per person, 30,000 per accident.
And so, this young kid tried to pitch me on Farmers Insurance. I said I would never buy Farmers Insurance. He said, “Why?” and I told him that and he said, “Well, what’s the problem with that?”
Jon: But not just your auto policy, but do you have enough coverage for your homeowner? And if you have a hundred thousand dollar policy, it’s probably not enough if you have serious assets that you can buy, what’s called an ‘umbrella policy’ for a million dollars or two million dollars worth of coverage. So you’re covered at that point, you’re much less likely to have your assets at risk.
The other thing people forget about is what about uninsured motorist coverage? There are a lot of people out on the road that doesn’t have coverage that costs severe damage. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, your policy will cover you as if they’re the insurance company for the other driver. And so you might want to think about that. And life insurance.
I had a client not too long ago. Her husband was flying and he crashed and killed himself. He was a Navy veteran that had a pretty nice retirement pension for him. Unfortunately, that pension died when he died and she was left with nothing. And she didn’t have a life insurance policy to take care of her. Once again, think about it. What insurance do you have? And is it enough? The other thing I’ve learned is that accidents happen quickly and unexpectedly. Be prepared.
The common denominator with most of the airplane accidents I’ve handled is that normal, healthy, happy people get into an airplane, they have no idea they’re going to be dead within an hour before they get out of the airplane. But that can happen in cars too, the fact is, there are a lot more people that die in car accidents and not airplane accidents. And it can happen very quickly. But if it does happen, do you have the life insurance you need? How’s your estate set up?
If you die, would your wife know the passwords for your bank accounts? She’d be a signatory on your bank accounts. What assets would she have to live on when you go to sell the house, how is it titled? I tell people to put their assets into a living trust. Then she becomes the trustee. You don’t have to go through a probate.
Jon: That’s a whole other seminar.
Paula: We’ll have to do another podcast on that.
Jon: Yes. But it’s amazing how these things can come back and bite you when you don’t think of the worst possible time. In fact, when I was a young lawyer I was told that the most valuable lawyer in the office is the one that has his files in such an order that if he got run over by a truck, somebody could sit down in his desk and pick up the ball and not miss a beat.
One of my consultants who became my client was a brilliant chemist. And he created a co-catalyst for making aviation fuel. By using this co-catalyst, the companies could put this into their tanks, they would create much more throughput[?] with much less sulfuric acid. It was a huge moneymaker for them. And my client made millions selling this by the truckload. And he was the only one that knew how to make it. People have tried to reverse engineer, but they couldn’t quite do it because he had the last little bit of knowledge of how he tweaked it. He never even told me how he did it. He just hit it out.
But then his family convinced him to retire and turn over the business to the oldest son and of course, the oldest son ran that business off the tracks and into the ground. He sued his father when his father tried to take the business back. And he tried to force his father to turn over the formula. Well, Daddy burned the only copy of the formula so it was all in daddy’s head. We finally got the kid off his back and we tried to convince dad to give the formula to somebody. Give it to your Alma Mater, your secretary, somebody you trust. And we almost had him persuaded to do that. Then he had a heart attack and took the formula to his grave with him.
Paula: That’s horrible.
Jon: It is, but these are the things that happen and they happen at the worst possible time. And the best thing we can do is be prepared, if we’re not here, what are we leaving behind? Because in the end, the only thing we leave behind is the memories of the people that know us.
And what are they going to remember from us if we left them a mess to clean up? Those are the lessons I’ve learned or some of them.
Paula: That’s fantastic. Those are really, really great lessons and I think we can relate to all of them in a lot of ways besides aviation. So that’s something else.
Jon: Well, that’s the point I was making is that what we learn in aviation can be applied elsewhere as well.
Paula: That is for sure. Great. I know, Mark, you had a cocktail that you wanted to share, of course, this being Contrails and Cocktails. We always want to end with a drink.
Mark: Yes, well, I did want to say a couple of things. Thanks, Jon. It was truly an honor to have him as a guest on Contrails and Cocktails. I deeply appreciate that.
And then also maybe when you have time, I heard Jon’s presentation at the Organization of Flying Adjusters in Daytona two years ago on Wills and Estate. And the [inaudible] of having a trust. So, after that talk, I was able to get that done last year based strictly on Jon’s discussion on that presentation, which I think actually we should do it again because it’s so beneficial, in my opinion.
Anyway, I was reminded of one of those accidents. I was following one the other day, and everyone survived. It was a 757. They were landing in Morocco, it’s about a 120 degrees. They ran out, they overshot the runway, and the proximity switches just barely touch, they didn’t realize that it touched the runway. So, the proximity warning did its job and put the throttles in an auto lock. But at the same time because of the heat, they ran on a runway. They did everything right except they missed that the throttle– firstly, it should have the throttle, I guess. So, once they realized that the throttles were locked, it was only like 6 seconds to get the engine [inaudible] up, but it was close to the ground and panic kicked in.
But there’s a new term because these aircraft are so automated. I was thinking, why do they even need that auto-lock, really, where they just do everything for you? And they called it confirmation bias, which is an interesting term. So anyway, Jon’s-
Jon: That reminds me there’s a story that the newest airbus has a new cockpit. It’s a pilot and a dog. And the pilot’s job is to feed the dog, and the dog’s job is to bite the pilot if he tries to touch anything.
Paula: The [inaudible] for me is just to keep his hands to himself.
Jon: Yep. [inaudible] all very automated. [crosstalk]
Mark: Two years ago, the L10-11 could land in zero-zero visibility better than the pilots could. So, the automation has been around for a long time, it’s just getting more and more sophisticated now that we have more and more computing power.
Paula: We just feel better when we have control.
Jon: Yes, we do.
Mark: I have to switch over on challengers when they went from analog to digital, during all the maintenance testing, I always knew where to look. During all our operational testing and whatever we were doing. It was pretty extensive stuff and I had checked my own checklist and etc. And then when I went to analog, just even a simple gear swing, all you’re getting is just a couple of little flickers of light to tell you the gears up or down. Prior to that, we will check the hydraulic pressures, it was a bunch of stuff I would watch just doing a simple landing gear check. But today’s pilots or mechanics, they don’t have access to that to be able to look at it and see.
Jon: You know what? I’ve been fascinated that these young kids today don’t have the same skill sets we had, [inaudible] with a slide rule. We had to figure out where the decimal point is. [crosstalk] [inaudible] 43 times 57, I know it’s about 60 times 40, I know it’s about 2400. I know it’s not 24,000 or 240. But if these kids missed a decimal point on a calculator, they’d never thought of it.
Paula: But they can plug the phone into one of these really expensive cars and figure out what’s wrong with it. [crosstalk] From the codes– another fabulous computer thing that is going on. And the cars’ brains we don’t even access.
Jon: That’s right.
Paula: It’s a whole different mindset and I think it requires everybody. I mean, you really need to– I feel better when an MRO has very old and very young mechanics, then they cover the gamut of stuff that’s coming out now, stuff that the old guys have learned from experience, you just can’t beat that.
Jon: Well, a lot of the new pilots, I think, are more computer operators. They don’t have the same stick and [inaudible] skills we grew up with. I think if you took the electrons away from some of these young pilots, they couldn’t find their way home.
Paula: So, you need an old pilot and the young copilot or vice versa. And then you cover both ways.
Mark: The captain was 37 years old with 8,000 hours [inaudible] 32-ish with 3,000 hours. But they miss the basics. Get the throttles forward [crosstalk] when they go around.
Jon: It happens.
Jon: Hopefully, the thing is, I found that it’s extremely rare that an accident happens because of a single mistake.
Paula: That’s true.
Jon: It’s almost always a chain of events [inaudible] and to break one link in the chain, to prevent[?] the action.
Paula: Yes. My husband’s always saying that even with our finances and everything else. We want to be three mistakes high.
Jon: Yes. In one incident we handled, I counted ten links in the chain, any one of which could have broken it.
Mark: Yes, especially in aviation. There are so many checks and balances in place. So, are you guys ready for a cocktail and mocktail?
Paula: Hopefully, a less risky maneuver to make a cocktail.
Mark: So, this cocktail, and you’re talking about the small things and I was talking with– Donna[?] was running my jokes today. [crosstalk] [inaudible] And then we’re also working on a proper cocktail that we would want to present. Anyway, she named this one, and it’s called ‘Soft Landing.’
Paula: Thank you, Donna. That’s a good name.
Mark: I thought it would fit for this podcast. It’s pretty simple, it’s made with [inaudible] enough for people to see it. We can see your bar which is lovely, Pimm’s.
Mark: Okay, it’s called Pimm’s. I’ve never had it, it’s a gin-based liquor. It goes back to England in the 1840s as a medicine. It started out strictly a medicine then it grew in popularity and now this beverage, if you go to England, I guess, it’s called you can order a Pimm’s, or if you go to Wimbledon[?] [inaudible] that’s their equivalent of the Kentucky Derby [inaudible] Three or four podcasts you go. So, it’s kind of ties in with that, I guess.
Well, it’s very simple. It’s two parts of Pimm’s to one part of fresh-squeezed lemon with ginger ale, and a little bit of sugar, simple syrup it to taste and you can garnish it with a mint or fruit, strawberry, lemon, whatever makes you happy. Today, I’m doing orange.
Paula: How much ginger ale?
Mark: It’s equal parts. So three to one, and then you add ginger ale with ice and [crosstalk] [inaudible]
Paula: Okay, that makes sense.
Paula: Fantastic and we’ll publish the recipe, of course.
Mark: And what I almost did using [crosstalk] [inaudible] I had some plan for making bias[?] I put the ginger ale and started to shake it.
Paula: Oh, that would be a fun pour.
Mark: Yes, so you don’t want to do that. Anyway, here’s to soft landings and then Mr. Pimms.
Paula: Hear, hear. Ting-ting[?]
Paula: Does it taste good?
Mark: Yes. As for the orange slice, I think it’s like one of the better ones that we’ve done so far.
Mark: We do a separate podcast where we just have a podcast where we talk about our favorite cocktails and see if people want to try them and see which one they like the best.
Paula: Smart. Yes, that’s a good idea.
Mark: All the part[?] out of each one that we’ve done.
Paula: Well, we’ve done some really cool ones. I’m not personally a fan of gin, does it tastes like Christmas trees? Or do the other ingredients kind of mellow that out some?
Mark: It’s hard to describe because I never had before. [crosstalk] [inaudible] I don’t know, different. It’s really refreshing. I don’t really put in a lot of alcohol. It’s not too sweet. And yes, it’s very light and refreshing. Oh, and it’s also been adopted in New Orleans. So, the [inaudible] buy that. If you go to New Orleans, I guess, it’s a popular drink down there. More of a summertime drink.
Paula: Sounds much better than a hurricane which is kind of been the traditional New Orleans. [crosstalk]
Mark: And again, this is a nice pre-dinner cocktail in my opinion because [inaudible] it’s not too much. I’m not a big drinker anyway, but we have an occasional old-fashioned or something like that, when if I’m going out for a steak dinner, a special occasion or a wedding, or something like that. But this is very nice. Very refreshing. It’s not too much alcohol and then you can mocktail, actually, it tastes very good. I would leave the alcohol out, with mocktail and I’ll replace it with tea, sweet tea.
Paula: Sweet tea, okay.
Mark: I think would be really good as a mocktail, also.
Paula: Yes, or even unsweet tea if you want to go [inaudible]
Mark: Yes. [inaudible] [crosstalk]
Paula: Cool. I have to tell you my daughter-in-law is following this because she does weddings. And so you know, a lot of people that do weddings have a signature cocktail for their wedding.
Mark: It’s a really good one. [crosstalk]
Paula: [inaudible] good ideas from you.
Mark: Yes, it has some really interesting history and it’s refreshing, but I think it would be perfect for a wedding.
Paula: Fantastic. Well, thank you very much. I think I’ve really enjoyed hearing all about risk management and everything. I’m inspired to go set up a trust and things like that and to make a ‘soft landing.’