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What Really Matters

Posted 10 years 25 days ago ago by Randy Mains

I was interviewed by a young man recently for a school project which turned out to be quite a profound experience for me. Answering the boy’s thought-provoking questions caused me to dig deep into my values to verbalize what is really important to me. You might say it caused me to examine ‘my essence.’ I’d like to share with you some of the questions he asked me that day, so that you can take a moment to answer them yourself. Knowing what your personal philosophies are should focus your mind, which will serve to filter out the minutia, the dross, and the external noise. So, let the interview process begin…


What is your personal life philosophy?

That’s easy and it’s taken me a while to finally ‘get it.’ First, live in the moment, the ‘here and now,’ because right now, right this very second, is all that really matters. Not tomorrow, not yesterday, not five minutes from now, but right this very minute.

Second, don’t take yourself too seriously. When and if you do, something or someone will come along and pull you up short.

Third, deal with what you have control over in your life. It is up to you how you respond to what is going on around you. For example, if someone tries to goad you into a confrontation, it is within your power to decide if you want to join in. My wife says it best. Whenever I get a bit huffy she tells me, “You can sit there and throw all your toys out of your pram (British: baby carriage) and rant and rave all you want to. I’m not going to join in.”

Fourth, have fun in your life; look for the humor around you. For humor, in my mind, is the elixir that will keep you young.

Fifth, don’t lose the child inside. Stay professional but keep a playful attitude. Doing so will also serve to keep you young. 

What is the key to ultimate success?

This is true in anything any of us strive for: Just keep stepping up to the plate and keep swinging for the fences. Be persistent and don’t give up. Be like Babe Ruth, one of the most famous baseball players in American history. In 1923 he broke three world records. He had the most home runs. He had the highest batting average. And the third record he broke, that not too many people know about, is that he had more strikeouts than any other player that year. It was his ferocity at the plate, his willingness to keep swinging for the fences that made him so successful. So, the key to success in my opinion—don’t lose the belief in yourself that you can do it, no matter what anyone tells you. Don’t buy into their negativity; ignore them and just keep on stepping up to the plate and swinging. 

What is the greatest accomplishment you’ve had as an aviation writer?

The greatest gift I’ve received as a result of being a writer came about 14 years after I wrote my second book,  Dear Mom I’m Alive—Letters Home from Blackwidow 25 , detailing my one-year tour of duty as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. A young helicopter pilot, whom I was working with at the time, told me at a party that before reading my book he had always hated reading. He said that reading my book had motivated him to read other books and he’d become a passionate reader. Hearing this thrilled me, for I’d flunked the first grade for being a poor reader.

What advice would you give to someone aspiring to be a helicopter pilot?

My advice would be the same that I would give to anyone starting out in any career. If you have the passion for it, go for it and don’t buy into anyone telling you that you cannot accomplish your dream. I have been told more than a few times in my life that I couldn’t accomplish something, only to prove them wrong. If you have a goal and want it badly enough, you will attain it.  

At the end of your life, how would you like to be remembered?

As a pilot I would want my peers to say, “Randy Mains was one of the best. He was safe and he always taught by example. I’d fly with him any day!”

As a writer, I would hope I entertained as well as educated the reader. And through some of my writing where I addressed the terrible HEMS accident rate in America and offered my solution on how to fix the problem, I would hope lives were saved.

As an activist for change, I hope that I’ll be remembered as someone who dared to speak the truth, focusing on what was right, not who was right. I would want to be remembered as a man who wasn’t afraid to stand up and holler out to the FAA, or to the NTSB, or even to Congress that the emperor wasn’t wearing any clothes. My quest was to try to save lives in a very dangerous segment of aviation – HEMS in America. I hope I would be remembered for being the voice of the voiceless, those who lost their life in an air medical helicopter who can no longer speak for themselves. I would hope I had a hand in making flying in an air medical helicopter safer in the future, because I didn’t shy away from speaking out for fear of ridicule, reprisal or retribution.

As a human being, I would want people to say that Randy Mains made a difference in their life by inspiring them to follow their heart, and that had helped them attain their dream.

About Randy: Randy Mains is an author, public speaker, and a CRM/AMRM consultant who works in the helicopter industry after a long career of aviation adventure. He currently serves as chief CRM/AMRM instructor for Oregon Areo.

He may be contacted at [email protected]