Part 2: Secrets I Learned Sitting Next to an Airline Pilot

by Adam

1) Pilots judge other pilots on their flying skills – It’s like there’s some secret point system. We had an incident on our approach to landing during which both nonflying pilots sized up the guy actually flying the plane. Just as the tarmac appeared beneath our plane, the engines roared and we suddenly climbed hard and began banking. While everyone else craned to look out the windows for an explanation, I looked at the pilots. The aisle pilot calmly said, “Oops.” The window pilot studied the runway, now far below us, before explaining that it looked like a plane on the ground had not quite cleared the runway while taxiing to its gate. “No point lost for our guy,” he said. “It was a good call. He did the right thing.”

2) Pilots don’t always tell passengers the truth – Following our missed landing, the pilot flying our plane confirmed over the PA what our aisle buddies had already told us. There had been a taxiing plane not quite clear of our intended landing strip. But not every pilot feels the need to be forthcoming, particularly when they are at fault. The aisle pilot told a story of a missed approach caused by pilot error. That pilot attempted to hide his mistake from passengers by blaming it on a nonexistent plane on the runway. What he did not know was that he told his fictional story to the control tower (which knew better), not to the passengers. Bad piloting and a finger on the wrong communication button put him at the very end of the line for his re-try.

3) Even pilots have travel bucket lists – It’s hard to believe that two pilots nearing the end of long careers flying the globe could have travel destinations yet to conquer, but both of these guys did. One wants to visit Ireland and has a trip planned there soon. The other confessed that when he travels for fun, it’s usually by car, but that he would love to spend time in Asia.

Melinda Crow of Yahoo! happened to read the first edition of “Secrets I Learned Sitting Next to an Airline Pilot” by her colleague and was lucky enough to have her own experience a few weeks later. Above are three of the secrets she learned while sitting next to two pilots. The remainder of the “secrets” can be viewed over at her post.  Thanks to Mark from Yahoo! for sharing!

Related – Part 1 – 7 Secrets I Learned Sitting Next to a Pilot on My Last Flight

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