What does it really take to be a Commercial Pilot?
What does it really take to be a pilot?
When you were young and your heart was an open book, you used to say, “I’m going to be a pilot one day!”
Chances are that happened the very first time you saw an aircraft. Raise your hand if this still happens every time you see an aircraft, even now as an adult. I was the same. I am one of you.
Even now, a machine weighing 300 tons and suspended in the air, challenges my imagination. Stop and think about that image for a moment. You soon realise what we take for granted when travelling from one continent to another in a commercial airliner. It’s a privilege that only Mother Nature is able to accomplish on her own.
The obvious question is, what makes an aircraft take off in the first place?
‘The pilot’ is the wrong answer. The answer, is physics. Every time you take off, know that in order to make that happen, a painstaking amount of thought has been put into theoretical physics that have been the basis for an engineer’s aircraft design.
Interestingly, the ideas that lift your aircraft off the ground are actually hundreds of years old. Even scientists have been unable to conclude if it’s the theory of Bernoulli (1700-1782) or Newton (1642-1726) that makes this feat an astonishing reality. Most tend to answer that 80 percent of flight is based onBernoulli’s theory of fluid dynamics and 20 per cent on Newton’s Law.
Pop Quiz: Ask yourself if you are willing to trust the airline taking you across continents if the pilots don’t really know for sure what makes the aircraft take off in the first place. This is why in God we trust! (No pun intended.)
I may be a qualified pilot and an experienced Instructor, but my career has evolved in a way that it has given me an ability to employ pilots who work with me and I help them pay their bills. It’s a good relation: one of mutual trust. They trust me to attract aviation enthusiasts looking to take the first step into the world of aviation. I trust them to conduct an ever-disciplined task of keeping these students safe.
Now back to the original question: what makes you a pilot? Discipline, discipline, discipline and a lot of passion.
I hear from many students that they are taking up flying to travel, or they want to be a pilot so they can mingle with attractive cabin staff (I’ll let you guess which ones!) or simply for the money. KA-CHING! If those were any one of your reasons – and hear me when I say this – I would strongly advise you to consider an alternative career.
The reality is, you can travel to different countries on your American Express card. If you want to attract the attention of a certain special cabin staff member, I would strongly recommend you take up weightlifting and pick up a book and read more (exercise your body and your brain!). This will save you from spending the $100,000 it will take to become a qualified pilot.
To become a pilot, you don’t just have to want to fly, you need to reassess the word ‘risk.’ What does it mean to you? In day-to-day life, the term is used to assess your personal wager against the given circumstances, but for a pilot the word risk is treated with much more significance.
Every time your trusted pilot takes the controls – even before you’ve pushed back from the jetway – they are constantly measuring risk against your need to safely reach your destination with a smile on your dial.
But because we rarely think about this – because thoughts of laws of physics, fluid dynamics and risk and the furthest thing from our minds as we buckle in – I think sometimes that pilots don’t get the respect that they truly deserve.
I’m not saying this to scold anyone. Before I took my first Trial Introductory Flight, I was guilty of it too. Until you begin learning about flight theory and connect this with your personal experience in the air, you’re largely oblivious to the incredible task that it is to successfully pilot an aircraft off the ground and back down again.
So the next time you see a pilot walking off the runway or through a departure lounge of an airport, feel free to stop them and thank them for the amazing job they do.
After all, your life, and that of hundreds of others, is in their hands.