The life of a pilot can be a mysterious one. Although we understand that they fly the plane and occasionally make announcements over the tannoy, the hands-on experience of being a pilot - in the air and on the ground - is largely misunderstood by the public. Far from having an easy time kicking back in the cockpit and earning a huge paycheck, the day-to-day of a pilot is much less glamorous than it seems.
As aviation enthusiasts ourselves, we’re always fascinated with the lives of pilots, and we’ve learned a thing or two that you may not know about pilots! To help you take a peek behind the curtain of a pilot’s life and job, we’ve put together this list of our favourite things you may not know about pilots. Take a read through and learn more about pilots with Flightstore.
One of the most common perks of the job is free air travel, which can seem like an amazing benefit for those of us who spend their hard earned cash on flights for both holidays and business! But did you know that pilots don’t actually enjoy flying for free? It’s not the financial savings they don’t enjoy, but rather than unpredictable nature of knowing exactly which flights they can get on and when.
Free flights are actually offered to all aviation staff, and only on flights where there are spaces that haven’t already been booked. These spaces are prioritised by seniority, so if you make firm plans to get free travel on a particular flight, the chances are that your spot could be taken off you at the last minute - not ideal when you’ve scheduled a trip away!
- Pilots Don’t Like To Fly For Free
Greeting flyers onto the plane is a long-held tradition with pilots, and although they love the chance to welcome you onto their flight, the jokes have a tendency to wear a little thin. If you’re thinking about asking the pilot to “pull over”, it might be worth thinking twice unless you want to get the forced smile and an eye roll once you’ve moved on to your seat.
- They’ve Heard Your Pilot Jokes Before
Each pilot is assigned a “base” airport, but that doesn’t always mean that they live right by there. A lot of pilots live elsewhere in the country and need to make long journies whenever they’re scheduled for a flight. If you think your commute is bad, at least you don’t have to set off the day before to make sure you’re at the airport in time for work!
- Pilots Have A Worse Commute Than You
If your mind ever wanders to what the pilot is doing the cockpit during your flight, I’m afraid it’s much less exciting than you may think. Far from being able to read a book or take a nap, pilots are restricted by aviation law to take anything that may serve as a distraction into the cockpit with them. This means no books, no crosswords, and not even any music. Instead, pilots pass the time between needing to actually fly the plane to chat with each other - it’s the only thing they can do by law!
- Pilots Can’t Nap, or Read!
It’s rare that a pilot gets into their profession without enthusiasm for aviation. Whether they’ve grown up with a passion for aircraft or developed their interests later in life, pilots are quite often just as obsessed with all things aviation as any fan! While in the air and on the ground, you’ll probably find pilots wearing the same aviation gear as the rest of us. The Alpha Industries gear we stock here at Flightstore is particularly popular with pilots for its practical and stylish approach to flightwear and streetwear.
- Pilots Are Aviation Geeks Too
It’s easy to think of a co-pilot as a tag-along that’s there to help with the teas and coffees - but it’s not so! A co-pilot will always be just as qualified as the pilot and could take over the job in a heartbeat. It’s simply a case of who’s been assigned seniority for that particular flight. Often, pilots switch on long-haul flights, so there’s really no difference between a pilot and a co-pilot at all.
- Co-Pilots Are Equals
The most gratifying part of any flight for a pilot is landing the plane. So much of piloting a plane is automated in modern times, that most pilots relish the chance to really put their skills into action and deliver a smooth landing for their passengers. Whether you’re the kind of person that claps when a plane lands, or just give the pilot a word of thanks when you’re leaving the plane, know that your appreciation means all the more since the landing is the most hands-on part of the journey for the pilot!
- Landing A Plane Is Their Favourite Part
Just because much of the piloting process has been automated, it doesn’t mean that pilots get to put their feet up and relax with the rest of the passengers. Piloting a plane is just as much about monitoring and observation as actually putting hands-on skills to the test. From keeping an eye on how much fuel the aircraft is burning, to working on navigational issues and dealing with comms in the air and on the ground, piloting a plane is much more than having your hands on the wheel.
- ‘Autopilot’ Doesn’t Mean Pilots Can Relax
Have we missed anything out that you think is a need-to-know pilot fact? Please let us know in the comments! If you’re keen to know more about how to pilot a plane, why not take a look at our pilot training collection, filled with training videos and manuals that can give you even greater insight into the work of a pilot.