What You Don’t Know About Pilots

Anonymous Pilot Talks About His Experience As A Flight Instructor

Many people think that being a pilot is all about the whopping salaries, the complimentary tickets, and the extraordinary Instagram photos you get to post. Well, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies which is why I decided to interview a skillful flight instructor to give us more insight about his career in aviation.

  1. Do you get bored when you’re flying? And how do you entertain yourself?

As an instructor.. sometimes yes, but it often depends on who’s sitting next to me. Often in instructional flights we are too busy to think of boredom, but I won’t lie that it does get a bit boring on a long working day when we have to perform a long cross-country flight. Especially when we must meet certain time requirements and we elect to set a low cruise power setting hence “stretching” our flight time.

When I was a student: Because my initial training was very exciting as I was realizing one of my life dreams, I never used to get bored flying, even during my long solo flights. Except for my last solo cross-country flight where I was elected for the farthest destination, It eventually got so boring staring at flat land that I started singing, talking to myself, and pretending I’m on a talk show, yes, very strange!

  1. What is the worst thing that one of your students did?

I’ve had the privilege of instructing students from all parts of the world, and I can tell you that I have almost seen it all.

It is quite amazing what a person might subconsciously do when under stress. I’ve had students cry in the airplane, sleep while having the controls, and even some students that I suspected were under the influence of alcohol due to their bizarre flying and slow reaction times. I’ve had experiences where students were going to put the airplane in a dangerous attitude or veer the airplane off the runway during takeoff or landing!

I’ve had some of my solo students fly to a different airport than what was assigned to them and even land at another airport to pick up a friend along for the ride. But by far the worst thing a student has done was not taking a shower in the morning before our flight. Training airplanes are quite confined and small and common courtesy is expected. But I somewhat felt that it was the student’s way of getting pay back for being scheduled at such an early time of the day! Diamond Da 40 Diamond Da 40

  1. What is the first thing that you do when there’s an emergency? And have you ever declared an in-flight emergency?

When encountering an emergency. I always try to remain calm and collected as to not make my other crew member panic, in most cases that would be a student that I'm instructing. Remaining calm and collected is really just a thought process that goes on in my mind as I simultaneously try to maintain positive control of the aircraft and assess the situation.

Typically rushing through an emergency situation doesn't always yield the best outcome, but at the same time in an aircraft things are very dynamic and need to dealt with in a timely manner.

Although I haven't experienced any “Emergencies” yet, here are some of the technical issues I had to deal with in-flight.

  • Landing gear failing to extend. After troubleshooting we decided to use the manual free-fall to release the hydraulic pressure keeping the gear retracted and allowing gravity to take over. (cause: failure of the hydraulic pump which is very common).
  • Landing gear indicating lights failure. Before approaching the runway while trying to retract landing gear, the landing gear indicating lights failed. After troubleshooting and performing a fly-by near the control tower who confirmed that our gears were in fact down, we continued to land after assessing that the landing gear was fully extended and locked. (cause: wiring fault).
  1. Did you ever feel like you wanted to quit piloting after a certain incident? Or perhaps after having to fly into a storm?

As pilots we are taught to stay away from thunderstorms by at least 20 miles, as certain hazards associated with such weather conditions such as hail have been recorded to have struck aircraft that far causing structural damage. But I have had some close encounters with “bad weather’ either due to lack of weather products or purely bad decision making. None of which made me think of quitting my career as a pilot, rather these experiences made me respect weather even more and made me a more prudent pilot.