Have you ever heard the phrase “The Show Must Go On”? Many people in the show business use that phrase for multiple reasons. Perhaps an injury, sickness, or even a death during a show by one of the performers. What is interesting is when you are the performer who needs to “press on” during adversity. Telling yourself that “The Show must go on”.
Recently, Jon Melby was asked to perform in an airshow that was only 10 days away. He was not feeling well as he just contracted a slight cold a few days prior. However, since the airshow was 10 days out, there should be plenty of time to feel better and allow room to get some extra practice in. However, the cold persisted for those 10 days and Jon was forced to make some professional yet difficult decisions the day of the airshow. Should he perform when not feeling 100 percent or make a safety conscious decision to stand down.
We all face times in our lives where we have to decide if we should continue when not feeling well or not. In our day to day lives, we have to choose if we take time to rest or use a sickness as an excuse to not do what is expected of us. As an airshow performer, Jon has accountability to those who hired him and to the fans expecting to see him perform. Those pressures make it very difficult to make concrete decisions that are not influenced by pride or money. Safety has to always be first, but the human factor seems to creep in making the process of “the right choice” very hard at times.
The morning of the airshow, Jon made the decision to keep moving forward and see if he improved. The problem you see is that having a cold (sinus congestion) while pulling heavy G loads in aerobatics is painful. It places a lot of pressure on the head as Jon has to tighten his stomach muscles during certain maneuvers. This tightening forces higher blood pressure in his head to keep blood in his eyes so he can see. If he didn’t tighten his stomach muscles, the blood would leave his eyes and ultimately Jon would go unconscious. This is a normal part of being an extreme airshow pilot. But throw in the added head congestion and now safety is of concern. Additionally, when you don’t feel 100 percent, you may not make proper decisions that require sharp focus in just seconds. Not making proper decisions is the number one cause of pilots crashing while performing aerobatics.
As Jon attended the airshow briefing, prepped his aircraft, and climbed in the cockpit…all the while monitoring his health to ensure safety. With over 15 years experience as an airshow pilot, he knows what is safe and what is not. Fortunately, the cold symptoms started backing off and he was able to circle the sky-divers with his wingman Will. Then, perform a squirrel cage chase with Will in his Pitts Bi-plane. After about a 50 minute break, Jon took off to perform his solo demonstration. As Jon states, it was one of the best airshow performances that he had ever completed. But he was hyper-focussed to ensure safety was paramount. All the while being the airshow performer that he is to entertain the crowd.
The question is, what do you do in your own life to ensure “The Show must go On”? It is easy to walk away at times when you are needed, especially when you are not feeling well. But if you can overcome the feelings and do what is expected of you, there is a sense of accomplishment that is unparralleed.
Listen now as Jon talks through what happened during the airshow. Even during this podcast episode, Jon has remnants of being sick…but The Show Must Go On.