How my life as a pilot is
|Saying the goodbyes are always the saddest part of the job. Anyone who is fresh in the field will get depressed by it, and anyone who has been around for a while is still trying to cope. It always manages to get the better of you soon after take-off, when you finish all the major checks, make sure the climb and progress are on the way, and usually a few seconds after you turn off the seatbelt light.
You realize that as a chartered pilot there is little you can do but try to keep yourself busy. It also comes as no surprise that amongst the career changing or "career redesign" phenomena, more creative jobs were filled with ex-pilots in ratio than any other trade. Pilots tend to redirect their emotions into something productive because they realize it's the only way to fill that void, otherwise consequences are not forbearing.
A chartered pilot typically gets rented with a number of their crew-mates, attendants and obviously their airplane on a seasonal basis. They come together as a whole package. Other airlines under heavy demand usually require this sort of arrangement. This usually is the arrangement when third world countries have failed to make proper arrangements for transportation. Whether due to poor planning or the lack thereof. It is when a country discovers that there is more demand on its tourism facility than was previously anticipated. Such a circumstance is the worst because you end up in poorly equipped stations and airports, you are away from home for an extended amount of time and you have no idea or plan on how to use such time.
It's different when you visit a country that is technologically advanced, you already have an image of their nightlife from the many guides you read. You can sense the way roads are laid out and centers of attention have evolved from the reviews you found on the internet. You don't have that at the third world airports, which makes the visit incomparable in the true sense of the word. "No expectations, no disappointments"
The spare time is usually divided into three parts, first, you have the excitement of visiting a new place and all that comes with that. The new faces you get to see, the new traditions that startle you and the hidden culture and scenery that is virgin to the world of guides and reviews. Such freshness allows you to make your own observations with no predefined scale to compare your experience.
Then you get to that part of getting your way around town and into cozy places you "discovered" by getting lost. Whether you are lost in the charms of such a cultural and unsullied city or you are lost because you couldn't find an updated map of that bothersome city. Either way, that doesn't really matter. What matters is you are a regular in someplace that infiltrates you into a different life style, gracefully may I add.
The third and most confounding part of time is when you are closing towards the end of your time there; it's the bittersweet part of your journey.
You are doing some gift shopping for the people who await you back home, adding to the excitement of returning to that familiar atmosphere and indulging in many nights of story-telling. You can anticipate the lengthy break because you earned an equally extended amount of time at home. Seeing your loved ones is topping the list right now.
A very close second is prolonging the experience because, more often than not, you will be scheduled to yet another part of the world, you will not get the luxury of going exploring a familiar town for a long time, apart from home that is. Another reason is you don't want to be away from the control-column and on standby again, that was not what you hoped for when you opt-in. You imagined a life of globe-trotting and soaring through the heavens, the reason why you burden hundreds of lives on your shoulders every week. To be able to have a new perspective on the little things that happen around us, the things we take for granted.
Watching the sun rise and set, sometimes into clouds and sometimes to horizons far away, is amongst the stuff take for ranted. You still get to be there waiting for it to happen on a very frequent basis. You get to understand the earthly colors and the reason why green is so relaxing to the sore eyes. The one thing that tops all others is the instinctive feeling that you are unrestrained, hence the Beatles' song "Free As A Bird", a blessing that every pilot remembers with every takeoff.
People have a preconceived notion of our responsibility and our duties. This is the case mostly because of –as in most cases- media representation of pilots. We are constantly publicized as handsome men-of-uniform who are grossly overpaid and who enjoy a lavish set of women. A pilot's life style is unique to almost every other job in the world, perhaps with the exception of related jobs such as flight-attendants and aviators. I am merely stating that the life style is different than any other, not better or worse. I will still show my enthusiasm for it.
I have also come to understand that people think of us as emergency replacements to Auto-Pilots.Those miracle worker boxes that keep us comfy in the cockpit and that will soon replace our jobs.
Both notions, however widely spread, are flawed. While pilots are amongst the few left occupations in the professional careers that are predominantly male, and while our travels leave a lot of space for disloyal dealings, it rarely is the case.
I am yet to meet the pilot that uses his or her uniform to gain access to what is normally unethical grounds. Never have I heard of -in my long dealing with fellow pilots- one that has been unfaithful to his or her spouse.
On the contrary, the periods of separation keeps the passion in the relationship and allows for more of the couple missing each other.It also provides time to think about whatever problems they might be facing.
The pilot's career -much like that of a surgeon or a lawyer- is spent rather obligatory on edification. New advances and changes to systems are ever arising. The pursuit of such knowledge is essential. Not only to your patient's or client's well being as in the above-mentioned cases respectively, but to one's own existence. Such knowledge encompasses such topic as law, navigation, technology and weather among other things, which leave no room for misinterpretations, as they could cost as little as the license in the mandatory biennial checks or as much as hundreds of lives.
The computers and such systems were a two-sided sword for pilots; it certainly did make life easier and more convenient. A lot of it cost them to work twice as hard to be able to keep in mind the vulnerability they enclose. Keeping at hand the capability to replace them in case of any mishap. The later task is getting even harder since there are more and more things that are steadily required of these magnificent pieces of equipment. Thus, we are required to be more able to replace.
All that being said, I do think we are lucky in what we do and boast a certain pride in what is usually a routine task. More than often I have been approached by young men and women who wanted to be future pilots. They usually have more questions than I would like, but I usually give one piece of advice over and over again, that usually is what is I would call adequate to describe the qualities of pilots:
"All you need is a little guts and a lot of patience and obviously the sense of adventure"
Praying for decent tailwinds,