Paul Rosset, 1956 – 2012
Paul loved the art and science of aviation. He loved airplanes, helicopters, torque wrenches, sparkplugs, rotor blades and propellers. He loved to talk about engines and compressions, airspeeds and approaches. Flying with Paul, sitting in a camp with Paul, or watching Paul work on a routine 50-hour inspection, I always learned something from him.
When the winds blow hard, a small aircraft is nothing more than an insect or a sparrow. Of course even a big airplane is nothing but a leaf in the wind when faced by the forces that move air and water and weather around this planet. Paul always took care to remind us just how delicate our machinery is, and how much it needs our care and attention to detail, in order to face the forces of nature.
When officials wade into the debris to investigate a tragedy, there is always talk of decision making. There are decisions that lead to other decisions, and those lead to the next and the next. In the cold light of analysis it is all too easy to view these chains of events as logical and direct and explainable, devoid of all the human side of our thought processes. But they are not.
The decisions Paul made that day in the Yukon led him along, moment by moment and mile by mile. We must remember this – Paul was not one to panic and he was not one to lose his cool. At some point he may have realized that he had no truly good options — a man who always seemed to make the careful correct decision, realizing that his options had become very few, and that all of them were bad.
But even then Paul would have continued to think and to decide. I believe that in those final seconds he was still thinking and deciding and acting, and that because of those final seconds and the choices he made, we are today mourning Paul, but the two people flying with him have survived. It was likely Paul who limited the scope of this tragedy. Hard words to say, but important — Paul and all of us can rest assured that to the very last split seconds of his life, he did his very best. When it came to flying and to turning wrenches, he expected no less of himself, and he expects no less of us who are still here.