Do We Truly Learn From The Past?

Learn from the past ; general aviation as a life line

In a recent conversation I was struck by an important thought that occurred to me, ‘do we truly learn from the past’?

IMG_1951 Do we ever really learn? And, what is the difference between those emergency planners that do apply those lessons and those that don’t.


As I strive to better prepare the state I love and live in for the massive earthquake that we are due for, I am amazed when I run into people who don’t seem to realize how things fall apart.  At the same time, I’m given hope from those that recognize the value of general aviation, and the important role it has played in just about every major disaster that has occurred.

float plane baseAfter about 12 years plus in SAR between 2 different counties and stopping at numerous accidents from my driving from point A to point B, some memories I’d rather not have, and a lifetime hiking in the woods in the high mountains I have drawn some conclusions that have been a part of my planning/thought process.

  • Emergency SeaplaneThe planet is uniformly uncaring about us. What it means to me is, you can have your own perception of what you’d like to see, but unless you accept that you can only do or use what you actually have left, then you end up in a pickle.  Many a hiker has gone into the woods on a sunny day not being prepared for the weather to turn, has become hypothermic and ended up needing rescue by SAR volunteers.
  • Improvisation is critical to success. As a first responder, prior SAR, prior Volunteer Fire Fighter and now nurse I’ve been trained in a lot.  But in the traffic accidents and even at times as a home health nurse when I step in to help I’m faced with a situation where I have to use what I have at hand to do the best for the patient until backup, usually EMS, gets there.   So using what I have before me to do my best.island seaplane

So the effect for me has been realizing that we can have the best laid plans, but if there isn’t flexibility in how and what resources are used, then ultimately lives will be lost.  In the end it means accepting less control over the planet and being willing to use what is actually left available to us.

katrina relief flightSo with that said here are historic examples on some recent disasters.


Ferry boats and float aviation played an important role and big part of the reason people where effectively evacuated.



2katrina relief flight.jpg1


Hurricane Katrina;

Another East Coast Hurricane Response Effort;

Haiti’s Earthquake;

California Earthquake;



Float Planes Used In Disaster Response

Pacific Island Air Seaplanes Relief Flights

ecuador flights

Now Ecuador


So I guess the question that struck me is with all this evidence of not just the consistent role general aviation continues to play, how it gets involved regardless of attempts to keep it out, but how it does make an important difference to relief efforts why is it some realize this and are willing to be flexible to incorporate it, but others don’t seem to learn from history?

I think a fantastic example is what the state of Virginia has done to not only include land based, but also float based GA as an integral part of the state level response plan.  I believe they and also what CA is starting to do are examples we can look to follow.

It is what I believe to be the core of the issue and thought worth putting forward.

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