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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Chetwyn Clarke

 Friday's Fabulous Flyer 

 Chetwyn Clarke

Chet Clarke's story is one of dedication and commitment, and he is a pilot to keep an eye on. He is giving back to the industry in the pursuit of safety. As first officer on the Dash 8 for LIAT, Chetwyn Clarke lives in Barbados and commutes to his base in Antigua.
While Chetwyn did his undergrad and primary flight training at Florida Tech, he interned with JetBlue's training department. I suspect this is where that passion for safety began. He tells me they like him enough they invited him back for the 1-year work experience opportunity on his student visa. 

Chet said, "It was a great opportunity, and I absolutely loved working within the American airline system. It is truly admirable: I love the access to information, the emphasis on education, the opportunity to further your education with courses and advanced degrees, the passion that persons in the industry have. I'm now working online with Embry-Riddle towards my master's, with specializations in Safety and Human Factors."

This is pretty exciting. I'm headed to ERAU myself and hope that Chet and I can do some important work together. But for now, please enjoy a great interview with a captain of the future!

Karlene:  How did you get interested in flying?
Chet: In Barbados, one of the pastimes on Sunday afternoons is to take your kids, park next to the fence at the end of the runway, and watch aircraft land.
When I was younger my mum would take me there, and I found it so fascinating watching plane after plane land, and that's where my interest in flying began. I had a friend whose Dad was an air traffic controller and after a few trips to the radar facility and the tower, I knew I wanted to be involved in the industry in some manner.

After having the opportunity to interact with pilots, and hearing about their experiences and, generally, the fun they had, I knew the flight deck was where I wanted to end up.

Since then, it's been an amazing journey.

Lisa and Chet

Karlene: Flying is all about safety... but what drew you to this aspect of aviation? Most pilots just want to fly. You're going that extra mile.

Chet:  During my undergrad we did a course on Aviation Safety, and we read through a fair amount of NTSB reports. Two things stood out: (a) it's amazing how accident investigators are able to work backwards from a mess of fragments on the ground and figure out what happened; and (b) there tended to be some common themes coming out of the reports. 

I don't know if the accidents we reviewed were purposely chosen by the professor because of that, but I started wondering: why is it that, even though we have access to all this information and past examples, we keep making the same mistakes. Why is that, and what can we do about it? I figured getting involved in safety would hopefully help me find some answers.

I'm trying to get my feet wet in safety, and right now I'm the liaison between the union and the company for the development of our FDM/FOQA program. Once that is up and running, it looks like I'll be one of the reps on the steering committee.

Karlene: So tell me about your FOQA involvement and flight development with that. How did it come about? Are you instrumental in bringing to the airline? Why?
Chet: FOQA/FDM was an initiative introduced by our safety department. The safety manager approached the pilots association about it, and asked for our input. I was appointed liaison for the union and developed a draft working agreement that was accepted by the Safety Department as well as the airline's management. 

We're just waiting on final approval by the union, and then we should be able to start analyzing data. Understandably, there is some concern amongst pilots on how the data will be used, but I think if both the union and the company work together, and trust each other, the program can be extremely beneficial. 

Karlene: One of the most asked questions today is..."Where do you see the future of Aviation?"

Chet: That's a tough question. I think the push for productivity has meant that the industry probably gets more out of pilots than in the past, but what I am afraid of is that we go to the extreme and push our flight crew too far, resulting in the degradation of quality of life and health. I think that's also pushed persons away from the industry, which isn't good for long term prospects. I think we need to get back to a point where the industry is one that is seen to be enjoyable, and worth getting involved in.

Karlene:  Is there hope for new pilots?

Chet: Speaking from my experience here in the Caribbean, it's difficult because we don't have many options if you want to fly professionally. We only have a handful of airlines, and they aren't currently expanding so new pilots find it very difficult to even get a start. I think if you are passionate about flying, and willing to put up with some tough patches, then there is hope.
It also helps to be surrounded by supportive people, especially your spouse and family. On the other hand, I think flying will continue to become more difficult on crews' personal lives, and once that continues, then it will be difficult to inspire future generations.

Karlene: Do you have any advice for our inspiring pilots?
Chet: The profession can be rewarding, and I think it's mostly what you make of it. Keep learning, and constantly seek to improve yourself. 

Chet...There is no Better Advice!!! Thank you for sharing your story. 

Please join me in encouraging Chet Clarke 
on a future of success. 

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene


  1. Chet, you have the admirable position of being realistic in your pursuit of your goal and a clear path to follow. I commend you for your observations and efforts to keep safety where it should be.

    1. Mike, Thank you for the comment. He's got a good head on his shoulders for sure. Excellent observations.

  2. Good stuff Chet! It's great to a young professional pilot really go after safety and work hard to keep it in the forefront of your thinking.

    1. Thank you for the comment Brent! It's nice to see for sure.

  3. Nice to see a fellow Caribbean pilot interviewed! I had the privilege of working for the Virgin Islands Seaplane Shuttle back in '88, and it is a memory of a lifetime!

    I like your quote, "the profession is mostly what you make of it." We all need to remember that we control how much we love or hate this business...and to always remember that we got into this biz cuz we LOVED it! ;-)

    Great job, Chet, keep it up, and we'll see you at the majors!

    1. Thank you for your comment Eric! Yes... I love that quote too. Kind of sad we have to say good bye to those memories in order to make room for the new ones.

  4. Great "Fabulous Flyer" Karlene!

    Chet, it you've done something incredible. As you said in your own words, to make it, becoming an airline pilot after growing up in Barbados, is extremely difficult.

    Your involvement in air safety is admirable too, from a passenger's (and future pilot's!) point of view, that's very comforting to know-your involvement with safety.

    What a great post!

    1. Thank you so much for the comment Swayne. Who say's difficult is impossible? He's proven that hard work can make dreams come true. Always remember that!

  5. He sounds like a pretty mature guy for his age. Or any age, come to think of it!

    Chet's looking for what I refer to as "sustainability" in the industry -- the ability to maintain a livable schedule and lifestyle over a long period of time.

    In the heat of "shiny jet syndrome", it's often overlooked by pilots who end up paying the price later on.

    1. Ron... sustainability sounds like something that would be a good wish for aviation!! I agree... very mature! It's nice to see young people who will be the gatekeepers of the aviation future. He is definitely one!

  6. Awesome Friday Flyer write-up, Karlene (and Chet!)

    I love your advice - keep learning! It's something everyone should strive for each an every day!

    Have a great weekend!

    1. Thank you so much for the comment Cecilie! You have a great weekend too!

  7. Chet, your vision as a pilot is very much needed during this difficult time in aviation.

    There are issues everywhere and we need competent people to be in command and develop new frameworks. Not just in the cockpit, but in every part of the big picture. We need the best leaders. That's all I can say for now.

    Karlene, brilliant interview. Chet, I wish I could follow your work somehow in a way I could learn more about it.


    1. Alex, Thank you very much for the wonderful comment. We do need his vision for the future. Another sharp mind on the future team.

  8. This is a great interview. Especially the fact brought up about pushing pilots to the brink which is putting safety altogether in great jeopardy.

    Chet, I wish you well in your endeavors and I hope we'll fly together someday.

    1. Thank you so much for the comment Jeremy. Wouldn't that be great if you could fly together. I suspect you might.


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