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How Much Does ELD Cost?
The ELD Mandate is upon us, and millions of fleet vehicles are required to purchase an Electronic Logging Device. The first question for fleet managers and owners is, “how much does ELD cost?”
The FMCSA, the division of the U.S. Department of Transportation that requires the ELD Mandate, commissioned a study to gauge the impact the mandate would have on fleets nationwide.
According to the study, the FMCSA estimates the cost of an ELD is $495 per year or about $41.25 per month per truck. ELD vendors in the study ranged in cost from $165 to $832 per year. The GPS Insight solution starts at $29.95 per month, per truck.
FMCSA estimates new ELD prices at around $1,000, but thankfully many vendors have dropped significantly since that study. (GPS Insight startup costs are around half that.) Some vendors have options to pay all upfront, finance over time, or rent the ELD devices.
- Hardware: You can choose vehicle-installed ELDs provided by your vendor or Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) as a hardware option to track Hours of Service (HOS). There are pros and cons to either option. Most importantly, you must ensure whichever option you choose will make your fleet compliant with the regulations.
- Installation: If you’re hard-wiring components to your vehicle, make sure you select a vendor that has access to a network of professional installers that are experienced in ELD installations. With the ELD Mandate’s deadline, Dec. 16, 2019, quickly approaching, professional installers are getting booked up fast. It’s recommended not to wait until the last minute due to the volume and demand for ELD installations. If your fleet is not equipped by the compliance date, fines will likely occur.
- Training: Set aside time for your drivers to learn how to use the E-logs. It’s regulated that ELD vendors provide a manual as a resource for drivers. To go a step further, a good vendor will include additional training resources at no additional charge.
The Good News
It’s never fun being forced to pay more by regulations. The good news is that most fleets realize a significant ROI from implementing ELD that works in conjunction with a Telematics solution. In the FMCSA study, a reduction in the time drivers spent filling out paper logs more than paid for Electronic Logging Device costs alone.
Make the Most of the Mandate
After finding out if you’re required to comply and looking into costs, the next step is to choose an ELD solution.
With the same minimum equipment that is required to comply with the ELD Mandate, you can also select a vendor that has many more bells and whistles at little or no additional cost.
In addition to electronic logging and DVIR, some ELD solutions include GPS tracking, navigation, and driver messaging features.
These features can greatly improve your fleet management and can multiply your ROI. If you’re required to buy the equipment anyway, choosing the right partner might make getting ELD a positive experience after all.
Top 5 Most-Common GPS Tracking Alerts from Our Customers
It’s possible to get GPS tracking alerts for a wide variety of driver actions. Our website has a list of the most-popular alerts that our customers use – and why.
Now we’ll take a look at the other side: Which alerts are the most commonly triggered? Our data allows us to break it down by percentage! Each of these alerts is a great choice for meeting safety and efficiency goals. Together, they provide a solid set of data that can upgrade your fleet management efforts.
Ranking the Top GPS Tracking Alerts
The Odd Hour Alert: 48%
Nearly half of the alerts our customers receive are for the Odd Hour Tracking Alert. This can tip fleet managers off to unauthorized use of company vehicles. If your company allows drivers to take their fleet vehicles home, they might be using them for side jobs or even just running errands with them.
Either way, that can cost your organization money by burning fuel and increasing wear and tear. That can even impact your vehicle life cycles and procurement plans.
Speeding Alert 75 MPH+: 15%
Speeding can have big repercussions for your organization. It can increase insurance rates (no insurance company likes speeding tickets) and tarnish your brand name. Plus, speed is a factor for many accidents.
And driving more than 75 mph is a sure way to decrease your vehicles’ gas mileage. Most vehicles are designed to be their most-efficient at around 55 mph. Plus, only interstate highways have speed limits of 75 mph. If your drivers are going that fast, there’s a good chance they’re doing so on roadways with far lower speed limits. The Speeding Alert is a great way to discover bad driving habits.
Landmark Alerts: 7%
Our customers often create landmarks using our software solutions. You can use landmarks for customer locations, depots, or even drivers’ homes.
The Landmark GPS Tracking Alert provides great insights for fleet managers, and they’re customizable to every fleet’s needs. And it’s an effective method for ensuring that your drivers are using vehicles for the right purposes.
Diagnostic Trouble Codes: 6%
The Diagnostic Trouble Codes Alert can tip fleet managers off to maintenance issues and even fuel usage.
This alert can even help drivers and fleet managers determine if the trouble code is a minor issue that can be handled later, or an emergency that requires them to pull over immediately.
The fuel usage function is even more accurate when paired with a fuel card integration.
Driving Faster than the Posted Speed Limit: 4%
It’s possible to configure the Posted Speed Limit GPS Tracking Alert let you know when drivers exceed the speed limit by a certain threshold. That can be the speed limit itself. Or you can give them some leeway – maybe six miles per hour above the posted limit, for example.
Also, you can have the system tell the driver to slow down.
What This Means to Fleets
These alerts provide data that can transform how you manage your fleet. And many organizations use this information to be safer and more efficient. If your current GPS tracking solution isn’t helping you succeed or you haven’t started using one yet, connect with us today!
Advanced GPS Tracking Solutions are Much More Than Dots on a Map
GPS tracking solutions for business are still thought of as dots on a map. People want to know where their vehicles are at any given time.
However, if this is the sole reason for using GPS tracking solutions for business, then the software itself is being underutilized.
GPS tracking goes well beyond simple vehicle location information and brings mobile workforce operations to life with in-depth reports, alerts, advanced mapping, driver communication (messaging), and routing.
Mobile workforce management is enhanced and taken to new levels of efficiency, safety, and accountability with GPS tracking solutions for business.
GPS Tracking Solutions for Business: Reports & Alerts
There are a host of reports that GPS tracking solutions for business provide to aid in solving your mobile workforce challenges.
Whether you face fleet inefficiencies, want to improve safety standards for your employees, or increase driver accountability, the reports from GPS tracking solutions empower you to overcome these hurdles.
Collectively, these reports give you the overall performance of your fleet and mobile workforce. Reports shine a light on everything from job completion efficiency to how well your employees are representing your brand on the road with their driving.
And they get as granular as you want. Whether you prefer a bird’s eye view and understanding or if you like to dig deep within the weeds, it’s all at your disposal.
GPS tracking solutions for businesses report on areas of the vehicles and drivers like the origins of high fuel costs, odd-hours usage (vehicles used when they shouldn’t be), as well as speeding incidents.
Using reports to coach drivers help to prevent these behaviors and incidents from occurring. Sales managers review calls with sales reps; football coaches review the game tape with players, and business owners and fleet managers review GPS tracking reports with drivers.
Once you identify areas of opportunity to improve your mobile workforce through reports, you can take action through alerts.
GPS tracking for business alerts employees in real-time to curb poor or undesirable behavior behind the wheel. If your goal is to reduce fuel costs by attacking high idle times, then send alerts to your drivers once the engine is on and stopped for more than 10 minutes telling them to shut the engine off.
If you are attempting to improve safety standards by reducing speeding tickets, then send an audible notification to the buzzer inside the cab of the vehicle letting the driver know they need to slow down.
When GPS tracking solutions for businesses began, it was only dots a map without many capabilities. Those dots didn’t do anything else other than move around.
Now, they do so much more.
Those dots leave trailers along the way for you to see where vehicles have visited in the last hour, six hours, 12 hours, and day. This location intelligence empowers you to confidently vindicate your employees if someone calls in claiming that one of them was speeding down the highway, knocked over their mailbox, or was only on the job site for a short amount of time.
On the flip side, if one of the drivers stops at an unknown location, you can drill down through street view and see an actual picture of where they visited.
This advanced mapping also allows you to efficiently and effectively route your employees to their stops.
If a last-minute job comes up, you can quickly reference who is closest to that location and send directions to their smartphone. No more time is wasted tracking the drivers down through a high volume of calls throughout the day.
Improving Communication with Drivers
All communication with drivers can be done right from the computer screen through the GPS tracking solution’s dashboard interface. Whether you need to send a quick message to update them with special instructions on their next stop or send them directions, it’s all done within the GPS tracking solution.
This convenient form of driver communication dramatically decreases inefficiencies and wasted time on multiple fronts. Office staff no longer have to make an untold amount of calls throughout the day updating drivers’ routes, getting ETAs, etc.
Routing within the GPS tracking solution also ensures that the drivers are taking the most efficient routes to stops. Routing in this way helps control labor hours and increase customer satisfaction because employees are arriving on time. You are also able to proactively give customers ETAs and updates if drivers get delayed because of traffic.
Bringing Dots on a Map to Life
We’ve only begun to scratch the surface of bringing dots on a map to life. They start to jump off the screen when you think more strategically about how to use GPS tracking solutions for business. Your return on investment is much more, and your GPS tracking initiative has a higher chance of success.
Questions to Ask Potential Telematics Providers
How many times have you said, “Cut to the chase – what’s your best price?” when in the process of buying a new product?
Maybe you have already asked that question while investigating telematics providers. It makes sense – not everything we purchase needs in-depth research. However, there are products we buy that deserve a closer look and that we should not skimp on solely for cheaper pricing.
Finding a telematics provider requires more time and research to find the best fit. There’s nothing worse than locking your organization into a three-year commitment with a provider only to have buyer’s remorse soon after. To help ensure this doesn’t happen, let’s look at essential questions to ask potential telematics providers during the buying process that deal with the functionality of the product, as well as what separates them as a business.
How often do you update your software?
We live in the booming age of technology, and the telematics space is no exception. Features and capabilities are continually growing and evolving, which means that telematics providers should be focused on updating their hardware and software. Some telematics providers update elements of their product quarterly or annually with an official release of a new version. Some companies update more frequently to stay ahead of the curve, providing cutting-edge features and technology as it becomes available. Make sure the telematics provider you choose is a leader in innovation and takes feedback from their customers on feature recommendations.
Do you have an in-house development team?
This is great follow up to validate their dedication to software innovation and development. Nothing says, “We’re dedicated to improving our product,” more than having an in-house development team. When development is not in-house, it can slow turnaround times for bug fixes, feature requests, integrations, or any updates and enhancements. Telematics providers who care about their end product will have in-house development teams continually make improvements and enhancements.
Find out if the telematics provider works with another company in your industry and how they use the software. This is beneficial because you will see proof of a successful implementation and get more ideas as to how you can use telematics to help your business.
Do you have experience with my industry and fleet size?
Find out if the telematics provider works with another company in your industry and how they use the software. This is beneficial because you will see proof of a successful implementation and get more ideas as to how you can use telematics to help your business. This information is typically offered through customer success stories published on the telematics provider’s website. The telematics provider should be able to provide customer references you can call and talk to about their experience as well.
Does your software integrate with my other back-office and fleet management systems?
It feels good when you have a few different business solutions that work great on their own. Having a few different business solutions that work great together is fantastic. It’s a connected world now where all types of software need to communicate to help streamline operations for businesses, and vehicle telematics software is one of them.
Find out if the telematics providers you are researching can integrate with the other software you use in your daily workflow.
Can your telematics solution be utilized by any number of users with different user permissions?
There is a hierarchy within every company. Access to specific information will vary depending on where each person falls within the hierarchy. You have C-level executives, managers, supervisors, and dispatchers who are in charge of different groups, need different information and therefore require different permissions. Make sure that you also have control over the level of permissions for each user.
How long have you been in the telematics business?
Don’t you want a telematics provider to have experience; one that has a proven track record of delivering an exceptional customer experience? It’s important to find the sweet spot – not too outdated, not too new. A telematics provider that is brand new may be a fly-by-night type of company and one day will vanish without a trace, leaving you high and dry. While companies that have been around a long time may seem more experienced, their equipment and software could be outdated, spending little to no time updating their systems based on customer needs. You may also be reduced to a number and not receive the quality service you expect.
What makes your approach unique?
Some common answers you might get to this question are “our software!” or “our features!” While features and functionality are important, you should dig beyond that response to find out if the provider will not only be the best software vendor but the best business partner. Why do companies choose to do business with you? What sets you apart from other companies in your space? These are aspects to think about when researching telematics providers to see if your company values match up with theirs.
What is your customer retention rate?
Choose a telematics company that has high customer satisfaction is a huge benefit for obvious reasons. A high churn rate is not a good sign of the company’s technology or customer service, and likely is a reflection of both. The industry average for churn is around 15% per year. Ensuring potential providers are not above this average can help weed out vendors that don’t offer the best products or experience. Also, reading review sites like Capterra to see what current customers are saying about their telematics provider is a valuable indicator.
What training and support services do you offer?
Training and support are important services to ask potential vendors about when making an investment in telematics software. Find out if the provider has customer service offerings, such as free, unlimited training by your dedicated account manager. Long into being a customer, you will continue to have questions as you learn more about the software, develop new fleet strategies, and hire new employees.
It’s also important to find out what kind of technical support the provider offers. Is it in-house? Is it outsourced? Do you have to call during a short time window Monday-Friday, or do they have more flexible hours where you can call at your convenience? These are key factors that play a role in your experience as a customer.
Do you offer a warranty for hardware?
The length of the warranty, as well as what it covers, varies from provider to provider. When you invest in telematics hardware, some providers offer a warranty for a few months, a year, or even longer. Some contracts act as the warranty for the entirety of your agreement. Make sure that you are covered in case any of the devices ever stop working and need to be replaced.
The critical takeaway from these questions to ask telematics providers is that a good solution goes beyond features and price. It’s about finding the ongoing support you expect, and a company that you want to do business with for years to come.
Third Level Telematics How to Drive Success by Connecting Data to Strategy
What do you think of when you see or hear the word, “telematics?”
To this day, one of the most common responses is, “Big Brother.” That’s because the original need for a telematics solution was to provide basic location information on drivers.
However, the technology and the approaches people take to it, have evolved over the years to solve more strategic business challenges and initiatives.
This article will discuss the evolution of telematics from a location-based solution to a higher-level focus on driving success by connecting data to strategic initiatives.
Level 1: The Tactical Approach
Initially, businesses with vehicles (of any size) usually need a solution for a simple problem with many consequences – a lack of information on vehicle locations. Not knowing where vehicles go after leaving the yard and what they do while they are out on the road causes many headaches in the event someone calls in to complain about a driver speeding, not getting somewhere on time, etc. Without this information, it’s hard to either verify or debunk these claims. Telematics was initially used as a tactical solution to solve these problems, which we refer to as the first level of return on investment (ROI) for telematics, such as driver behavior and fleet visibility. While it helps businesses solve challenges they are facing by providing real-time vehicle locations, it fails to deliver the maximum ROI potential because it lacks in two key areas – communication and business strategy. A lack of communication leads to the classic fear-based “Big Brother” perspective.
Level 2: Communication = Maximized ROI
In the second level of telematics, companies begin to communicate and connect the “why” for drivers instead of focusing on disciplinary action. When drivers understand the reasons and goals behind the project, it improves efficiencies for businesses and makes coaching sessions around the technology far more effective. The approach to telematics is now a more holistic and operational one where people start moving away from the “dots on a map” mentality. The mindset becomes more of a scorecard-based approach relying on certain key performance indicators (KPIs) to improve driver behavior and efficiencies, which is now communicated throughout the organization. Businesses now realize to maximize ROI with telematics, they need to communicate these KPIs and project objectives throughout the organization, starting at the top of the company and filtering down to the drivers. By increasing communication and focusing on reducing KPIs such as speeding, idling, and miles driven, companies start seeing the maximum ROI from the technology. Receiving this ROI drives a more strategic focus, which leads to the third level of telematics.
Level 3: The Strategic Approach
Taking a more strategic approach to telematics gives birth to an external focus on initiatives such as customer experience and competitive differentiation. Businesses start thinking of strategic initiatives first, then looking to see how telematics data can help drive success in these areas. Companies in the third level of telematics are strategically aligned with connecting the data telematics provides to their strategic goals. Examples of this are seen when service companies want to decrease their wait time windows for customers in order to improve the customer experience. This leads to utilizing telematics data to spot inefficiencies they can improve in getting to customer sites faster, thus reducing window times and providing a better customer experience.
Connecting the Data Dots
There’s nothing wrong with a Level 1 or Level 2 approach to telematics. If the business challenges you face are a simple lack of location information or needing to reduce metrics like speeding tickets, then taking these lower level approaches might be appropriate for you.
However, when you approach telematics from the third Level, you will receive the maximized ROI and benefits of the first two levels automatically along with many more.
How to Pitch GPS Fleet Tracking to Upper Management
GPS fleet tracking software solves many challenges that fleets face from driver accountability to improving efficiencies and safety (both for employees and the public). If you believe GPS fleet tracking can help solve the challenges your fleet is facing, read this article to learn the best practices for making the business case and getting buy-in across your organization.
Identify How GPS Tracking Can Solve Your Challenges
The first step to making the business case for any solution is identifying the problems your fleet is currently facing. Depending on the size of your organization, upper management may not even be aware of every day or long-standing issues within the fleet. This disconnect is your chance to bring them to light while also providing a solution. If they are aware of the challenges, then this is your opportunity to provide the solution.
It’s important to lay out how your fleet needs to improve and how GPS fleet tracking will help your organization achieve the goals you have. It is easier to get buy-in from upper management when there is a clear objective, such as a new safety initiative to help reduce the number of accidents and tickets the fleet currently receives.
Test-Driving a GPS Tracking Solution
One of the easiest ways to receive buy-in from upper management to implement a GPS fleet tracking solution is testing one out on your fleet. Some GPS tracking providers offer pilot programs where they install devices on a select few vehicles and assets within your fleet to gather benchmark data for you to see the proof of the technology and that it is the answer to help overcome your challenges. It’s also an excellent chance to test out and see if the GPS tracking provider can do what they say they can.
Most importantly, it’s crucial to share the data with upper management and other departments that will be affected. Getting a benchmark of data at the beginning to reflect current performance will provide evidence that there are problems that need solving. Then during the pilot, you can utilize the GPS tracking software to address these challenges.
Proposing a GPS Tracking Solution
At the end of your pilot, you will have the data and proof you need to propose how GPS fleet tracking can effectively solve the issues your fleet is facing. Providing this to upper management will be vital to receiving their buy-in to move forward with purchasing a solution. Also, presenting the expected return on investment (ROI) can help positively position the purchase from their perspective. Showing upper management how you can hold drivers more accountable, increase efficiencies, and provide a safer work environment will be all you need to receive buy-in to implement a GPS fleet tracking solution.
What You Should Know About GPS Tracking Technology for Alternative Vehicles
Many businesses and government fleets are purchasing electric, hybrid, and CNG vehicles to reduce their carbon footprint and to improve fuel efficiency. This is great for the environment and your wallet! However, when you start looking for GPS tracking for alternative vehicles there are some important things you need to know.
Tracking a regular vehicle is different than tracking an alternative vehicle
Most GPS tracking providers do not provide accurate data for alternative vehicles
Although most GPS tracking providers claim they can track alternative vehicles, just like any other type of vehicle, the data they are receiving and analyzing is not accurate. Few companies have taken the appropriate measures to ensure quality data is gathered for alternative vehicles.
As an expert in device management, we have introduced logic that allows us to successfully accommodate the multitude of voltage variables present on the ECM/ECU in alternative vehicles. This allows BDL to record a vehicle’s true trip activity as opposed to struggling to accurately capture ignition status change events.
Since alternative vehicle engines shut off when stopped, at a red light, for example, most data that would come back would show that the driver shut the vehicle off in the middle of the road, when in reality that isn’t true. The company’s data would show that it was indeed stopped, but that the trip was still in progress and the vehicle was stopped at a red light. BDL also can provide accurate data for when the ignition is truly off.
With this GPS device formatting, fleet managers get accurate stop/ignition status data from the devices tracking these alternative vehicles to include hybrids, all-electric cars, and natural gas vehicles.
Black Diamond Logistic Solutions LLC, IS ONE OF THE ONLY PROVIDERS TO OFFER RELIABLE GPS TRACKING FOR ALTERNATIVE VEHICLES.
For more information on tracking your alternative vehicles, contact BDL for a custom quote or to schedule a live demo.
The Best Experience Ever
When I was a young boy, maybe 7 or 8 years old, I would have to fetch the cows to bring them to the barn to milk. It was always the same time every day. At that same time, almost every day, an event that would take place that I thought was the greatest thing ever, a green airplane, a Cessna 337 Skymaster would fly over the ranch at a low altitude. What it must be like to be able to fly and what sights one would be able to see from that vantage point, how the view would be so much better in that airplane than standing behind a half dozen cows going for their evening milking!
One afternoon I ask my grandpa if he knew who it was in that airplane. He said, Hal Buttler. Hal was the general manager at Fort Apache Timber Company in Whiteriver, Arizona. As time went by, the intrigue of Hal flying over the ranch late every afternoon never got old. I would stop whatever I was doing and look up and wonder the same thing each time. One late summer afternoon when I was about 12 or 13 years old, my grandpa said he was going to the airport and get a cousin and his wife who were flying up to the mountains to visit us. When he said they were flying up, I thought they were on an airplane as passengers. When we arrived at the airport, the cousin was tying down the aircraft.
The airplane was a Piper Cherokee 180. Much smaller and only one engine compared to Hal’s 337 that had two engines in a centerline configuration. But it was an airplane none the less, and I was so excited to get to touch it, smell it and explore all of its curves up close and personal!
After securing the airplane for the night, we all piled into the car and headed back to the ranch. I could not contain my excitement, and I started asking questions. To my surprise, my cousin was more than happy to answer all of my dumb 12-year-old questions. He explained to me how the air moving over the surface of the top of the wing at a different rate than the air going under the wing would create lift, how moving the controls inside would cause controls on the outside of the airplane to move to control it. Then came the most fabulous offer of my life, an invitation to go flying with him the next day!
The anticipation, the butterflies in my stomach, and the mental images of what was in store for me were so great that I didn’t sleep that night. Little did I know that my life and my dreams for my future would never be the same again. Many boys at the age of 12 or 13 are battling raging hormones, I’m sure I was too, but my passion was for the airplane and not so much the girls.
A year or so later, as I was eating, breathing and fantasizing about airplanes, I found out from a very close family friend who just happened to be a pilot, that there was a ground school being put on one night a week in the not so close town of Springerville about 45 miles away.
He knew the instructor, and he knew my passion for the airplane. I went to my parents and told them that I wanted to attend this class. You have to know that I had very little to virtually no interest in going to school up to this point. I ask my father if he could take me to the Ground School each week? He was so negative. He told me that it would be a waste of his time and money, that I would lose interest after a few weeks and it would never happen for me.
To this day I’m not sure why he said yes, because it would require him to drive me every Thursday night over the mountain 45 miles to go to school for two or three hours then back and he was so sure I would give up and not finish the class.
I ate flying up! I could not get enough airplane! The friend of the family that had told me about the Ground School in the first place had a coworker that was about to start taking flying lessons in Whiteriver Arizona and thought I should visit with him and the flight instructor and see if we could work something out for me to ride the 35 miles each Saturday morning with this fellow and then have him sit around and wait for my hour of flying lessons to be over before he could go back home after his hour lesson was over.
The instructor was initially concerned with my age. He did not think I was mature enough based on just my age but not prepared for my passion. I was fighting my father’s negative attitude and a flight instructor who did not feel I was mature enough to start flying at 14 years old but did not know me!
Aside from my age was another significant catch to all of this. Who was going to pay for it? When it came to money, my father was not going to invest, but as became a little more enthused about helping him with his part-time business building fence, he decided to exploit me. To make me work hard for flying before I lost interest and would also lose interest in working! When it came to my age, well, there was just no way to speed that up. You see, at the time, you had to be 15 to solo and 17 to hold a private pilot’s license. I was still only 14 years old.
I would get up at 4:00 am and work until it was time to go to school, then work until dark after school to make enough money to earn another hour of flying time. All winter 1973 and 74 I lived this schedule, then one evening in early spring 74, we were called to a family meeting around the kitchen table. My father accepted a transfer and advancement for the electric Co-op he worked for full time, and we were moving!
Moving to Whiteriver Arizona was a big deal for us boys because we were going from a school that was a football powerhouse to one that almost did not have a football program and we would be a few of the only “white boys” in a school of nearly all Native American Indians!
The fence building jobs continued, but I wanted something to do that included airplanes! As it turns out, one of the flight instructors that was giving me lessons was also the FBO and had just started an aviation business and had contracts with the government to fly fire patrols over the Reservation. He was looking for a “gas boy” and guess who held his hand up high when he found out the job was available? Yep, I was going to make a significant career change at the ripe age of 14!
I started working at the airport pumping gas, washing airplanes, and even got involved in working on the aircraft under the supervision of the mechanics. The Whiteriver Arizona Airport was one of first Air Tanker bases in Arizona. It was a bustling place in the summer, and I loved it. I was rubbing elbows with world war II pilots flying B-17’s, PV-2’s, C-119’s, P2V’s and the Navy version of the B24 known as a PB4Y. And if there was ever an excuse to get in the left seat with one of those pilots for a chance to fly the famous warbirds I was right there!
Not many 14 or 15-year-olds had time in their logbooks in these great airplanes. It is signed off by some of the most excellent pilots of the time. Some of them in their spare time were flying in the movies such as Tora-Tora-Tora and others. Herm Galegar, Don Hacket, Lee McCranie, and Jack Bettle are a few names in my first logbook who each thought me something that I still remember and use even today after 4o+ years of flying. I owe a lot of what I am today to these great men. The willingness to teach, share their knowledge and their experiences with a 14 or 15-year-old kid, allow him to get behind the controls of such great airplanes. Wow!
Two weeks after my 16th birthday, I went to Prescott, Arizona, to take my check ride for my private pilots’ license. It seemed to be only a technicality, as I had over 350 hours logged as a student pilot in so many different airplanes. The examiner handed my license and said something I’ve always remembered; “this is only a license to learn.” He said if I ever felt that I know it all or got too comfortable, I had better give up flying because that attitude would kill me. You see, he was right, and I’ve never stopped learning and refuse to get too comfortable in anything that I do.
Had I listened to or accepted what people were saying to me, or about me, telling me I was too young, I was too immature, or that I did not have the wear with all to finish what I started, I’m not sure where I would be today.
I went on to join the US Air Force and spent four years as an Air Traffic Controller. A job that I enjoyed. I became a firefighter and was very involved in Fire Aviation as a carrier fighting forest fires with aircraft. I had many other side jobs, and I even ran a few successful businesses on the side when I was a firefighter.
My success in life and business has been a result of my experience as a very young man in aviation. It taught me that ANYTHING is possible and to not listen to the naysayers, even if one happens to be your father! Another is the ability to make decisions! Aviation taught me that you MUST make a decision, even if it’s not the best one at the time, making a decision will buy you time and give you a chance to think about a better one! Making no decision will kill you! It taught me to decide on the spot, don’t overthink it, make the decision, and then adjust as necessary.
It has helped me in life, has helped me in business, and even helped me raise my kids, getting started in aviation at such an early age was a great blessing. Nothing molded me into what I am today and taught me more precious lessons that I use every day than aviation.