Finally! After months and months of not being allowed to travel back to Germany we were set to visit our family and friends again. Can you imagine how excited I was? As we arrived at the airport and went through the security we were waiting at the gate for boarding.
The plane came in late from Amsterdam and so the crew did not check the checklist as clearly as they should have. After we boarded and were almost ready to leave the gate and taxi towards the runway, our crew discovered a slightly broken seal at a door. So we had to leave the plane again – together with all our hand luggage – that the mechanics were able to pressurize the cabin to test the seal. OMG! For a moment I was angry and disappointed. Why haven’t the mechanics checked the plane properly before boarding to proceed? We were not sure if we were able to leave at all.
When I spotted the pilot, my mood changed. In fact I prepared for an interview at home in case I get a chance to ask a pilot a few questions. And here he was. He also had to leave his cockpit for the test. I took my chance and simply asked him if he would be available for a brief interview and he agreed promptly. It actually went very well and he even invited me to have a look at his cockpit at the end. This was great! 2 decades later – ehm I mean 2 hours actually we were allowed back into the cabin (home sweet home) and enjoyed the rest of the flight. So here is what the pilot had to say:
What’s your Name?
When did you start to be a commercial pilot?
1980 – well before you were born.
Do you fly long-haul or short-haul flights more often and which one do you like better?
I usually fly long-haul. Long-haul works best for me: as pilot you are only paid for the time you actually fly, waiting or transit times do not count as work. When flying long distance you accumulate hours faster.
Do you enjoy your job and why if so?
I love my job. I have been flying long haul internationally for the past years. Whilst I have been away for some days in a row, it has been allowing me to spend a few days at home between the flights. This enabled me to see my children grow up, visit their sports games and so on. In addition I was able to visit many beautiful cities throughout the world.
Did you ever work for another airline?
Yes, I worked for other airlines, especially when I was flying cargo machines in my early years of the carrier.
What is your favorite plane?
The Boeing 787 we fly today is wonderful, the most beautiful one was in my view the Boeing 757.
Do you also fly cargo planes?
Not anymore, but I used to fly a McDonnell Douglas DC10 cargo plane many years ago.
What is your favorite Airport?
Chicago O’Hare. I believe they have the best air control in the world.
Do you prefer flying in the night or in the day?
I like to fly in the day – you often have a great view from the cockpit.
Do you have a tip on how to become a pilot? It’s my dream job!
Start early right after college and look for a registered flight school. Pilots are required to proof many hours experience before they are allowed to fly commercial planes. By attending the right school, this requirement may be reduced so it is faster to become a ‘real’ pilot.
Of course I accepted the invitation and visited the cockpit. I was even allowed to sit in the pilot’s seat and ask more questions to the co-pilot. The co-pilot however did not know, the total number of switches and buttons there are in the cockpit (how can you not know this???), but he knew the function of each one I asked.
After a bumpy but still great flight we finally touched down in Frankfurt. Let the holidays begin!