Have you ever had dreams of becoming a pilot? It sure sounds like a great job. You get to fly all over the world seeing places people only can dream of seeing and to top it off most of the time you get to travel for free! Sounds like a sweet gig. However, many people do not realize the amount of time and hard work, also not to mention the investment needed to become a pilot. Many people think that if they can fly a plane in a video game they can fly a plane in real life and that is far from the truth. What they do not know is that in order to fly that Airbus or Boeing you must have at least 4,000 hours of experience flying an actual plane, not a virtual plane.
It may sound like a dream job, but it is not a job for everyone. Most pilots do not get to see their families for months, which is why some pilots keep pictures of their family members in their hats. There are many other things that people do not know about pilots or about becoming a pilot. Just like most jobs, there are some pros and cons to the field.
Being a pilot is not all fun and games, especially when you have your passengers' lives in your hands. There are a lot of things people do not know about the job until they become a pilot themselves. Here are 20 surprising things pilots must know.
Since airplanes are made to fly in the air it is obvious that the plane should be as far as possible from the ground. Despite being so obvious, flying planes too close to the ground has been a leading cause of airplane accidents. Flying too low to the ground can cause premature impact and can be very dangerous. Also, flying closer to the ground means that there are a lot more obstacles in your way, whereas if you are flying higher there is nothing in your way. It is not easy for a plane to maneuver around things, therefore making it more dangerous.
When flying a plane there are always two pilots. One being the main pilot and the other is the co-pilot. Many people wonder what the difference is between the two and wonder who has the most power or does one have more responsibilities than the other. The truth is, both the pilot and the co-pilot are equal. They both have the same amount of responsibilities. According to Slice, they both have the same authority and skills required to fly a plane. The only difference is that the pilot is known as the captain and the co-pilot is known as the first officer. As a passenger it is always nice to know that there are two fully capable pilots flying the plane together.
When flying overnight or anytime when it is dark outside, the pilot will dim the lights. Most people believe that the lights are dimmed to create a relaxing atmosphere so they can get some sleep. Even though this does make sense it is not the sole reason why the lights are dimmed. According to The Talko, the lights are actually dimmed as a safety precaution. The pilot dims the lights because if the airplane were to crash the passengers' eyes would already be adjusted and would allow them to see better in the dark. As much as the pilot would love for you to have a great nap, your safety is more important to them.
It is no secret that flying a plane can be difficult and once you are in the air there comes a time when you have to land the plane. Landing the plane can be very tricky and there are a lot of deciding factors as to how easy or hard it will be to land. For example, the weather can be a factor when it comes to landing the plane. Bad weather such as a snowstorm can make landing a plane hard to do. It also depends on the airport itself. Some airports have short runways, while others have narrow runways. According to Traveller.com, some pilots enjoy a challenge when it comes to landing the plane and find it fun.
Being a pilot takes a lot of skill and the only way to gain that skill is by practice. It is not easy being a pilot, therefore it is important to never give up. Experienced pilots do not let a rough landing or minor issues stop them from growing. They simply use their experience to allow them to improve their skills. It is also important to remember to always keep calm, whether on land or in the air. While flying a plane, unforeseen circumstances can arise and it is important as the pilot to keep calm and deal with them accordingly. As a pilot it is your job to keep your passengers calm and you cannot keep them calm if you are not calm yourself.
Since airplanes are thousands of miles in the air above land and water and because laws very from jurisdiction there really is no airtime law. With no set rules and laws, pilots are the ones who are in charge. According to The Talko, pilots have the ability to arrest people and even write an official legal fine. While in the air, they act as the police. Their plane is like their own jurisdiction. This is something that pilots do not usually tell people because they do not want their passengers knowing that they hold that kind of power. It's hard enough that they have to fly the plane, they do not want to have to police it too.
While on duty you will not see a pilot eat shrimp or any shellfish. In order to avoid getting food poisoning they are not allowed to eat shellfish. The worst thing that can happen before a flight is having the pilot get sick because they wanted to indulge in some shrimp or crab. Surely passengers would be mad that their flight was cancelled because the pilot wanted a shrimp cocktail. As pilots they must stay away from any food that are prone to food poisoning. They must be careful as to what they eat before a flight and make sure that everything they eat is fully cooked and prepared properly.
Not only are pilots unable to eat shellfish before a flight, they also cannot share their food with other pilots. According to Air Canada, pilots are ordered to eat different meals then their crew members just as a safety precaution. This way if a crew member gets food poisoning, there is a good chance the pilot will not get sick because they ate a different meal. It also works the other way around as well. If everyone were to eat the same food, there would be a big problems if all the crew got food poisoning. For those reasons food preparations are taken very seriously. When it comes to the food they make sure that it is properly cooked and heated when served.
Nobody likes it when their flight is delayed or cancelled. It is crucial that flights are always on time. This is mainly to ensure that flights are landing where they are suppose to and on time and it also makes sure that passengers are able to make their connecting flights. Being on time allows everything to run more smooth. According to Reader's Digest , states that The Department of Transportation puts such a big emphasis on being punctual, that they do not allow flights to be delayed even if there are 20 people on a connecting flight that still have to board, but they are running late. To avoid being late, airlines try to board their passengers as soon as possible and as efficient as possible. Being on time is more important than getting passengers where they need to be.
For many passengers listening music is a must when flying. However, this is not the case for pilots. Not because they do not want to listening to music, but because they simply just cannot. Instead of music pilots listen to radio communications between airplanes and ground controllers. While flying they hop from one radio frequency to another in order to know the movement of the aircrafts around them. Music can be a distraction for pilots and flying the plane requires all their attention. Communication between airplanes and ground controllers is more important than the latest tracks from popular artists. Since they are not allowed to listen to music, we can only assume that they sing a lyric or two out loud every now and then.
Those who want to become a pilot spend more than $70,000 on their education. In addition to their education, Pilots are required to do a certain amount of hours flying before they can get their license. These hours flying can be very costly. Even though there are thousands of pilots being hired by airlines ever year, the fact that becoming a pilot is so costly and the low entry rate pay steer people away from becoming a pilot. Those who go through with becoming a pilot do so because it is more of a passion than a pay cheque. The money comes second when it comes to doing what they love as a job. Education can be an investment.
Like most jobs when getting hired the company looks for the amount of experience a person has. This experience can prove whether or not that person is qualified to do the job. In addition to investing over $70,000 for their education, pilots must also have an average of 4,000 hours. Pilots must have these hours completed before being hired. It is also recommended to have these hours done before you even apply for a job. Having these hours is important because it ensures the company that this is in fact not your first time flying a plane and that you know what you are doing. Every passengers' lives is in the pilot's hands, no airline wants to take a chance on a pilot who does not have a lot of hours under their belt.
Pilots are only allowed to fly one type of airplane at a time. When getting their license they must go through 8-12 weeks of training, which depends on the type of aircraft they want to be flying. According to Air Canada, this schooling involves "ground school", pre-simulator mockup flights and simulator training. Before even getting your license the schooling takes a long time. Which makes sense because people do not want just anyone flying the plane they are about to board. No one said becoming a pilot would be easy, but those who are pilots state that it is worth it. Those who become pilots love their job and find enjoyment when going to work.
Once a pilot has completed their education, school, hours of experience and has received their license the work does not stop there. Even if a pilot is licensed they must renew that license every six to eight months. Once it hits the eight month mark, pilots are sent to the simulators to renew their license. If they fly a Boeing 77 then they must renew their license every six months. It is not like getting your driver's license, when you pass you do not have to do it ever again. Your pilot licenses must always be up to date. This may sound like a lot of testing, but if you are confident in what you do then there should not be any issues with the renewal.
Just because a plane had a hard landing it does not mean the landing was bad or the pilot does not know what they are doing. According to The Daily Mail, if the runway is wet the pilot will land the plane hard to avoid it from skidding. If the plane you are on has a hard landing there is a reason for it and you should thank the pilot rather than think they do not know how to land a plane. Just because a landing was bad does not necessarily mean something bad. There are always reasons why pilots do certain things and most of the time they are for the safety of their passengers. Landing is one of the parts of flying that passengers do not like, but trust your pilots that they try to have a smooth landing every time if possible.
It may not happen often, but according to The Daily Mail, planes can get hit by lightening and in fact it happens all the time. Each year a plane gets hit by lightening and although they may get hit, it does not necessarily mean that it will cause damage to the plane or even harm the passengers. Even if a plane gets hit and passengers and crew workers see a flash and hear a loud bang it is nothing to be worry about since airplanes are built with lightening protection materials. You will be safe even if you are flying through a thunderstorm. Pilots however do try to stay away from thunderstorms and steer away from the lightening to the best of their abilities.
From below you can see lights on an airplane, but what most people do not know is that pilots flash their landing lights or wing inspection lights to passing airplanes as their way of saying hello. Usually this is done at night since it is easier to see the lights. Even in the sky pilots find a way to be nice to one another. It is like pilots have their own language used to communicate with other airplanes in the sky. Keep in mind this is not something every pilot does and it does not mean they do it all the time. Not only is it a way to say hello, but it is also a good way to let other airplanes know that you are there.
Many passengers hate turbulence as it can induce a sense of fear into them. It is great to know that turbulence cannot actually cause a plane to crash. It just makes it a little unsteady to fly during rough turbulence. Most pilots do not want people to know that a sudden updraft can cause more dangerous situations than turbulence. According to Slice, experience a sudden updraft is like hitting a giant speed bump at 500 miles an hour. These updrafts cause a major concern for pilots and can be a challenged dealing with them. So next time you feel a little turbulence know that you are safe and it could be worse.
With the idea of autopilot many people wonder if pilots even fly the plane. The answer is yes, pilots do fly the plane. Even though autopilot does do a lot of the flying the pilot is still very important when it comes to flying the plane. Autopilot is not used when the plane is taking off and when it is landing. However, in between take off and landing autopilot is capable of controlling the plane. With autopilot there is no need for the pilot to be hands on all the time, however if you think you can become a pilot and not have to fly the plane because of autopilot, you are sadly mistaken.
There is no question that when a pilot checks into work that they are bound to be flying somewhere. Pilots love to ask other pilots where they will be flying to on their shift. According to Air Canada, there is a good chance that when two pilots are seen talking to one another they are asking each other where they will be flying to. It is a commonly asked question between pilots. It is a great conversation starter because there is guaranteed to be an answer since of course the pilot will be flying somewhere, it's their job! It must be nice to start your shift in one place and end up in a different place.
References: Air Canada, Slice, The Talko, The Daily Mail