April 15, 2019 - Robert John Hadfield

You Don't Need An Expert Until You Do

Autopilot is Wonderful as Long as Nothing Goes Wrong.


Several years ago I found myself in an airplane sitting next to a commercial airline pilot. I am fascinated by airplanes and flight so I couldn’t help but start up a conversation. We talked about different types of planes and the process of certification, the pecking order of pilots, and we even talked about Airbus vs Boeing.

During the course of our conversation he discussed the incredible changes in technology that had taken place over the decades, specifically in navigation systems. He said that once the plane leaves the ground it can practically fly to the final destination and land itself without the pilot. And then he said something that really hit me. He said, “But when something goes wrong, that’s when you need me up there.”

A few weeks ago a couple of 737s went down, and it appears that it was the fault of the navigation system. Unfortunately it appears that the pilots on those planes had not been trained properly, so they didn’t know how to handle the navigation system failures when they occurred.

When we get in a plane we assume that the pilots are experts. We don’t question them at all. we assume that the airline, or some governing agency, has already taken assured that. And for the most part, the airline industry seems to be very cautious about such things. The numbers tell the story. There are over a million flights around the world every day and the odds of being in a plane crash exceed the odds of most lotteries.

It’s interesting to consider all the things in our lives to which we asign that same blind trust. We assume the food at restaurants is safe, we assume the mechanic working on our car knows how to fix it and can it back together correctly, we assume the person who wired our house didn’t create a fire hazard, we assume the person putting gasoline in the tanks at the gas station didn’t mix up the diesel and regular in the wrong tanks, we could think of thousands of things to which we blindly trust some level of accuracy and expertise.

And the same is true with our company, Audiomover.

 The truth is, what we do in our studio isn’t magic. If you had the knowledge and equipment, you could do it yourself. There are a few other people around the country who have figured that out and started companies offering this same service. But the difference is, our company is built on expertise. When something goes wrong, you want people like us working on your project. And things go wrong more often than you would think.

Let me offer a simple example that came in this week.

We received an order srom someone with just over 100 tapes. We started running the tapes and everything was going pretty smoothly. But then we came across a tape that simply wouldn’t play. A tapes that won't play isn't that unusual, but the specific problem with this tape was.

Even after we fixed it, I still have no idea how this would have happened in the first place. Take a look at this photo, it’s not obvious what’s wrong when you look at this first photo, and one might assume that nothing was wrong. And for many companies, they might just send it back to you and tell you it doesn’t work; but not us. I took the tape apart and found this.


The clear plastic window that allows you to see the actual tape had been bent into the cassette housing and was preventing the tape from playing past a certain point. Fortunately it was obvious what to do at this point. We pulled the reels out, removed the window altogether, put the reels back in place, carefully set the tape back in place around the spools and pressure pad, put the housing back together and screwed the entire thing back shut.


When I finished fixing this tape I thought back to my discussion with that pilot. Most of the time what we do it pretty straightforward, but when something goes wrong, you want people like us on the job. There are dozens of different things that can go wrong with audio and video tapes, and we see them every single day. If you are planning on sending your audio and video tapes to a company to get digitized, do yourself a favor and pick a company like ours who can confidently handle the odd situations when they come up. Your tapes are worth it.

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