How To Plan For Wildcards – Planning The Unknowns

“Always, Always have a plan” ― Rick Riordan

I plan.  Even when I know a plan is likely to change, I still plan.  It just feels better when I have a framework defined before the week begins.  This puts me in the action rather than reaction mode, accomplishing several things:
  • I saves mental, emotional and, in most cases, physical energy,
  • It gives me a track to start the week on, even if rerouted,
  • I can coordinate with my spouse allowing a smooth interface instead of bumping into each other’s schedules!

These past few months, have tested the most skilled of planners, including me.  It seems nothing can be counted upon to work in a predicable way.  Yet, I planned, falling back on skills learned as a child, then honed through air traffic control and piloting.

If there is a way to fine tune ones ability to plan, then pivot, adapt and adjust those plans, become and air traffic controller or own an airplane!  Since I have done both, I have a lot of practice.

Airplanes, Wildcards and Planning Unknowns

An example was a time when, as I looked over the coming week, endeavoring to map it out, a major “wild card” lurked in the mix.  In this case, it was the annual inspection on my airplane.
Airplane stuff often falls into the wild card category.  The unknowns revolved around three things:
First, the plane had to be flown into the repair shop before the expiration of its current inspection.  I had only three days.  Fortunately, weather was not a factor – this time.
Second, I needed help with ferrying the plane. Not with the flying, but in ground transportation. Normally when I fly, I drive to the airport where the plane is hangar-ed,  go for a flight, return to the same airport, get in my car and drive home.

In this case, I would not be returning to my home airport, so I needed a ride (by car or plane) from the airport the shop is located at, back to my home airport to retrieve my car.

Planning Unknowns
Successful ferry flight complete!

My spouse usually gets chauffeur duty in these instances, but the day before all this had to occur, a pilot friend messaged and asked, “you free to go flying in the morning?”  “Uh, yes! and by the way…..”.

We worked out the logistics and met for an early morning flight before taking the plane in for its check-up.  Pilot friends are awesome.

Delegating, Sort of…

The third aspect of this wildcard was, I agreed to help with the inspection.  An owner assisted annual, is the official designation.
I have been a part of inspections on my plane for the last 19 years and I have learned a lot as a pilot.  This experience was a part of executing a successful emergency landing. 
An FAA certified shop is the responsible party, so I become a part of their routine.  Since this takes place in a shop and my plane is not the only one attended to, I must fit into the shop’s schedule.  Thus, timing is not totally under my control.
Add to this, planning unknowns uncovered as the inspection progresses:
  • parts that have worn past allowable limits,
  • bearings out of tolerance,
  • and oh, what that oil screen might reveal!
So the unknowns can multiply like bunnies in springtime!

Taming A Wildcard – Planning Unknowns

The wildcards and unknowns were tamed that week, as they have been over the last weeks of social distancing, closures, shortages and just plain weirdness.  I continue to map out my week but allow for more margin to accomplish be routine things.   An adaptable plan is the key.
Significant unknowns have become more prevalent these days and, interestingly, time flying my airplane has become more predicable!  I guess that says something for the times, but no matter how large or small planning unknowns can be done!
Did you find this helpful?  How are you all doing out there?  Please share in the comment section.  

I am a former air traffic controller, pilot, Aircoupe owner, married 42 years to a great guy. We live in a 125+ year old historic Victorian, enjoy cats, vintage anything, precious friends. My passion is Giving Lost Stories A Voice – Giving Found Materials Fresh Form and Purpose!

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