Today marks my 20th Anniversary of being a Commercial Airline Pilot. On June 13, 1994 I started flying passengers for Delta Connection in Atlanta Georgia. My first airplane was a 30 passenger prop called a Brasillia but most of you would refer to it as a “puddle jumper”. I wore a uniform with a hat and jacket and flew to exotic places such as Dothan, AL and Charleston, WV. I was “Hot Stuff” and loved every second of it.
Through the years I’ve transitioned to larger airplanes and have been a part of several airline mergers. Today I fly a 187 passenger Airbus 321 for the largest airline in the world. I’m based in Phoenix and fly mostly domestic with a few trips to Canada and Mexico.
Most pilots don’t fly a regular “route”. I find myself running through Central Park in the morning and swimming in the Pacific that evening. I’ve been bitten by a jellyfish in Puerto Vallarta and chased by a Moose in Anchorage on the same day too. I can generally choose which cities I want to go to every month and which days I fly. My favorites are New York City in December, Seattle in the summer and San Diego anytime. I really enjoy the smaller towns like Des Moines for their gracious hospitality and super cool independent mom and pop restaurants. I try to always eat local and you will never find me in a “chain” restaurant. And- I’m always on the lookout for FlapJacked!
This might sound exciting but most of my job is boring. Yes, boring. It’s designed to be that way. I follow procedures and use checklists for everything in the cockpit. There should be no surprises or excitement at all when you fly. Every time I return home from work Jenn asks how my trip was. If I say "boring" she’s relieved. She knows that boring means all went well and there were no disruptions. Now I’ve had some “non-boring” flights, but all were handled through procedures and discipline. I’ve had engine failures, faulty brakes, hit birds, icy runways, passengers having heart attacks and strokes, severe turbulence, coyotes and deer on the runway, lightning hits, and a lot more! Most of the time, however, it’s boring. :)
The biggest drawback to being a pilot is being gone from home. I’ve missed birthdays, choir concerts, soccer games, first steps, hospital visits, nighttime kisses, and even Christmas morning. You only get so many special moments with the ones you love. And that is the worst part of being a pilot: being away from the ones you love when all you really want is to be home.