Thursday, October 21, 2010

Truths From The Cockpit

You probably already know that I have issues with giving up control.  I'm not proud of it, but that's just the way it is.  I like traveling, but because of my control issues, I have a hard time handling the flying part some times.  The fact that 2 faceless people I have never met and will only meet for 2 seconds while dragging my carry-on past when I get wherever I am going have my lives in my hands gives me a moment of pause when I am settling into my aisle seat.

Stories like the one where the 2 clowns piloting a Northwest Airlines flight overflew their destination by and hour and had to be told by a flight crew member that they were way off course don't make me rest any easier when I am being bumped and jostled by the beverage cart and assorted baby-carrying parents wandering the aisles.  Today I ran across a story carried online by Reader's Digest that covers the '50 Secrets Your Pilot Won't Tell You.' 

The bottom line is that it isn't pretty behind the cockpit door.  The folks whose hands hold our lives are by their estimation, overworked, underpaid and under-appreciated.  They are afraid they don't have enough fuel to get you home safely and they really ARE up there reading the newspaper.  The general tone is that they really don't think much of the flying public and I am not real sure they care that much about the trust we place in them every day when we get aboard their aircraft.

I know these kinds of expose articles tend to select out the most salacious comments.  It's probably also true that the most jaded and disaffected pilots are the ones most likely to respond.  Still, it's pretty shocking stuff from a profession that, despite taking some hits over the years, still places much of its membership above the $100k mark in salary each year.

If you want another look into the lives of folks who fly for a living, there is a companion story from the perspective of the cabin crew.  Basically they don't like us very much.  No surprise given the fact that we are all tired and grumpy and trying to find our belts and cellphones after running to the gate after waiting two hours for security ineffectively screen us.

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