As a pilot who is not fortunate enough to fly for an airline yet, I find myself being asked the same questions over and over in common conversations. If you’re a pilot yourself, you can probably relate to at least a couple of these. Without further ado, here’s number one…
1. So do you like, land the airplane too or just fly it…?
Yes, believe it or not, even student pilots land the airplane that they take into the air. It’s a crucial skill that we are taught from even the first lesson (even though the flight instructor can be a little nerve racked on that flight). So if you are in a conversation with a pilot, please assume they land the airplane and avoid asking this all-too-common question.
2. So… what do you want to do with it?… Go commercial?
This is without fail the second question that pops up after number one. It has harmless intentions, but to a pilot’s ears it just sounds wrong. See, flying “commercial” in the aviation world means flying any job for money (flight instruction, banner pulling, charters to Florida, etc). Therefore when people ask me this, the first thing that pops in my head is, Of course! why else would I pay to go to college??. Then I realize that 80% of people out there are referring to a big airline like UPS or Delta when they say it, and I begrudgingly tell them yes. Just remember, commercial means flying for hire.
3. What kind of planes can you fly? Can you fly big planes like a Boeing?
This is a totally harmless question and is one I actually don’t mind answering. Most private pilots (can fly planes 12,000 pounds or less and split the cost) will be flying single-engine, smaller planes such as the Cessna 172, Piper Warrior, or Cirrus SR20. Then they may earn their multi-engine add-on which allows them to fly airplanes with more than one engine (usually smaller twins to save money). This is where I am at my stage in flying. We usually will fly airplanes such as the Piper Seminole, Beechcraft Baron, Diamond Twinstar, or the Piper Aztec. It’s more than possible to fly huge planes like a Boeing 747, but you must get a “type rating” in a plane that heavy which can cost more than $10,000 to receive. Therefore, while most pilots can actually fly these, they just wait until they are paid for this training and all the fuel that jumbo jets burn in the air.
There’s the list. If you see a pilot and decide to strike up a conversation about his or her career, you will now be more educated than most of the people we talk to everyday. Thanks for reading, and see you next week.