By Ryan M Hartman, President & CEO
Late last month, the Insitu team officially reached the monumental milestone of 1 million operational flight hours. One million hours equates to 114 years of flying, in our first 23 years as a company. That’s a lot of hours spent in the air, but I want to be clear that we are not celebrating simply the hours of flying, but rather the 1 million ways we have achieved them – in other words, the collective effort that has made those hours a reality and the numerous ways that we as a team have changed the course of history during those 1 million hours.
For those who are not familiar with Insitu’s Why statement, it is to pioneer and innovate in all that we do so we positively impact people’s lives and change the course of history.
How did we come up with such a bold purpose? I like to think that we didn’t. This purpose has been engrained in our culture and the way we do business since the company’s early days. Insitu’s purpose has been defined and shaped each day by stories of lives that have been saved and history that has been changed through the work of our team around the globe. Every single person who has worked on the Insitu team, been a customer to Insitu, been a part of the Insitu ecosystem, or supported our organization in the industry or local community, has contributed to this milestone. This means that we are celebrating not only the work of the Insitu team, but rather the collective success of an ecosystem that lay claim to having changed the course of history, through positively impacting people’s lives.
The small team of original employees that started our company all gravitated toward Insitu because they were encouraged to be creative and collaborative. They were allowed to fail as long as they stuck with it and found a solution. Our founding engineers recognized not only the value of investing in people, but also the culture of incredible possibilities that are created when people feel as though they are investing in themselves. I remember thinking about this a lot when I became CEO three years ago. It was then that I committed to taking those original principles that spurred our founders on to create this company and make sure they continued to be present in our culture moving forward, including our Vision, Mission, Pillars, Values and our Why. All of which, I believe, contain that same spirit that was present at the inception of our company. But I particularly think of our Why in this way.
You’ve heard me talk about it a lot and that’s because it not only describes Why we exist, but is connected to a story that is the perfect example of how these flight hours represent so much more than just time in the air—they are much more than that. These hours represent the efforts of every one of us, the efforts that ultimately result in saving people’s lives and changing the course of history.
I am referring to the email we received several years ago from a high-ranking official for one of our customers that stated “I cannot tell you what or how, but I need you to know that thanks to your team and your technologies, the course of history was changed today.” It’s a powerful thing to think about and perfectly captures how we all have a hand in the success of every mission and every operation.
Milestones are great, not because they change who we are, but because they give us reason to pause for a moment and reflect on the incredible work that has led us to achieving them. Insitu is no different a company now than we were at 1 or 999,999 flight hours and we will continue to strive for the same professional aviation excellence that we have worked toward and achieved since day one. The moments represented in this milestone allow us to be inspired by the work we’ve done – customers, employees, suppliers and community members – and then use that inspiration to fuel us as we move onward, toward the next million hours.