POMS talk: Aviation 1940 = Medicine 2005

B-17 Throttles

B-17 Throttles (Photo credit: rkbentley)

On Sunday I gave a capstone talk at the Production & Operations Society meeting in Denver.  I oriented my talk toward a comparison of health care now, with aviation’s transition to Standard Procedure Flying in the 1940s and 50s. BOHN POMS Standard procedure flying 2013e

As in medicine now, experienced expert flyers who did not use standard procedures were still better than newly trained pilots who did. And there was resistance to the changes. But aviation had a couple of advantages in making the transition: New pilots who did not learn SPF died quickly, usually in accidents. And the old experts got rotated out of combat positions (United States Army Air Force), or eventually got shot down no matter how good they were. (Germany)

English: Boeing B-17F formation over Schweinfu...

English: Boeing B-17F formation over Schweinfurt, Germany, on Aug. 17, 1943. Русский: Группа Boeing B-17F над Швайнфуртом, Германия. 17 августа 1943. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Despite this, some aviation services took until the early 1960s to make the switch. This story is told in Chapter 5 of my book draft. It is both tragic and fascinating. Why, for example, did US Navy pilots fly so differently than the Air Force, all the way up to the 1960s? (The answer hinges on the difference between the Battle of Midway and the Battle Over Germany, and to  inter-service rivalries during the war.) And  in the 1950s  young American lieutenants told senior German pilots with 100 “kills” to their name, “You may be a hero, but your flying stinks!”

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