36 Hours As An Airline Pilot By Ryan Kirkpatrick

As an airline pilot, your job is getting the aircraft to point A to point B, and sometimes even C or D. An airline pilot usually means long hours, boring flights and tons of complex radio communications with ATC, other pilots, and following FAA regulations. If it's not commercial then it's private. Small aircraft like the Cessna 172, 208, and Citation X, or the Beechcraft 1900D and premier 1A. Going from city to city is a tough job and we're going to look at 36 hours in the life of an airline pilot. In fact, not every airline pilot flies planes. It can also be other aircraft and jobs, such as a police bird pilot.

A Colorado Springs Police Department helicopter.

Starting hours(1-10): The first ten horus of 36 is important. Hour one is spent getting assignments and checking aircraft with mechanics, with hour two being adjusting the aircraft, and fueling up. Hour three is the important one. It is spent getting passengers on board safely, and by the end of this timeframe we will be halfway into hour four. For the rest of Hour four it will be starting the aircraft and communicating with ATC, along with taxiing, avoiding other aircraft and taking off/moving out of the airspace. From here for the next 12 hours is a flight from KJFK(John F. Kennedy International Airport(NY)) to EGLL(London Heathrow Airport(London)). Upon landing we're past the halfway mark, and now the pilots get some rest.

Hour 16: For many pilots, getting to the UK means a return trip home too. This means another 16 hours of flight, but lets go ignore that for now. The pilots wake up, and prepare for another day of flying. Flying from London Heathrow to Manchester means VFR charts for local flights, they prepare their aircraft for flight. In hour 17, they are doing preparation checks again and won't take as long, so they are back up in the air.

The pilots arrive two hours later, and get fully squared away with everyone off of the plane at hour 20. They then go into the company hanger and work on paperwork. This is where they get assignments from the company and can contact their mechanics if they are not there. For the next couple of hours, they are scheduling coming flights. From there they prepare for the next flight and go through a checklist. Cargo or passenger? Distance for flight and the weight of the contents. They then go back into the aircraft and set the computer systems to the settings for things like GPS and flight routes, along with getting flight papers complete, and submit them for review, finally getting ready for flight at hour 22.

With 14 hours left to go the pilots take us on another journey back across the Atlantic Ocean to Miami International Airport, in Miami-Dade county, Florida. The first hour is spent getting people on board and finally taking off. With 13 hours left to go the flight is smooth, but long and the pilots are controlling the aircraft at 39,000ft above the Earth. This flight is longer, as the Coriolis Effect, that is the effect that the rotation of the Earth on objects flying at speed/altitude, is in effect. That means the pilots must correct their flight path and make it curved so they don't go off course. By the time they land they are in the 35 hour range, and get finished on the ground just after 36 hours after we started.

Flights like these are all too common and at any given time, there's 6,000 aircraft in the skies of the world. That means not every flight is for a company, or even in the commercial industry. Some are military, private, or experimental. Some pilots fly more, some fly less, or some are non-stop and are in an aircraft for up to a day before getting out and able to sleep outside of an aircraft. Pilots are constantly in stress and constantly on their toes during a flight, even though it may seem easy. There's many terms to memorize and many scenarios that can go wrong, which makes this a unique job like no other.

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