A Day in the life of a Pilot
The job of an airplane pilot carries considerable charm, prestige, responsibility, and risk. An airline pilot can find himself in a different time zone, climate, and culture every day. As one notes: “It’s like a new and different expedition every time...a new and exciting world to discover and journey through.” Pilots literally have the lives of their passengers in their hands. The physical and mental demands are rigorous. The ability to remain calm under pressure and having perfect vision, hearing, and coordination are crucial requirements. Roughly 60 percent of all pilots are employed by commercial airlines, the most visible and widely known job available to pilots. Such professional visibility and prestige come with significantly more responsibility and a better pay scale. Commercial airline pilots fly large passenger planes often with 200 or more people aboard. There are several important safety steps that a pilot must take before every flight: Checking and filing flight plans, securing the approval of the air traffic control personnel of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and checking weather and flight conditions. The airline pilot or captain is assisted in his job by a crew consisting of a co-pilot, a flight engineer, and a flight attendant. Sometimes the crew is extended to include an additional co-pilot and a navigator. Another important “member” of the crew is the automatic pilot, an electronic device which is programmed to fly the plane. Even when the automatic pilot is on, it is the captain’s responsibility to remain alert to problems that may affect the plane. During the flight, the pilot and co-pilot maintain radio contact with ground control stations to report on altitude, speed, weather conditions, and a host of flight details. With minimal retraining, the commercial pilot can make the transition to other areas of aviation. Helicopter pilots are used by television networks and radio stations to deliver...
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