Following up on ‘5 Ways To Make Your Next Long Flight Less Of A Haul‘, Mantality has persuaded its tame airline pilot to fess up a few trade secrets. Read on, then curse your decision not to pay for that ticket cancellation insurance.
1: Turbulence Can Kill You - Just Not How You Think
Modern aircraft are built to withstand incredible forces and are made from far sturdier materials than the human body. Although severe turbulence won’t cause the plane to break up into tiny pieces in midair, it does cause unsecured objects to literally bounce off the walls. And the ceiling. And finally the floor. If you don’t want to keep your seatbelt loosely fastened all flight, may we suggest you pay for a whole row of seats and get one of these!
2: Most Pilots Don’t Know How It Stays Up Either
Of course they’ve studied aerodynamics and know all about the THEORY of flight. But the truth is that an Airbus A380 super-jumbo can weigh up to 590,000kg when it gets airborne. That a) it’s only differential pressure between air molecules that keeps 600 tons of gravity at bay, and b) the wings don’t snap like twigs, suggests the aeronautical engineers have been dabbling in the Occult.
3: He May Be On Food Stamps
Obtaining a pilot licence can cost in the region of US$120,000 but is still not enough to guarantee employment. The Catch 22 is that well-paid jobs in the major carriers are only open to those with a licence and several hundred hours’ experience flying airliners. However, unless you are John Travolta, the only way to obtain this experience is to fly for an airline. The lo-cost operators know this and offer the opportunity to build up hours while paying peanuts, such that a new copilot in an American regional carrier can earn less than a window cleaner. Rather than just hoping the driver is concentrating on the task in hand and not how to feed his family, perhaps it’s time to start paying a bit more for tickets?
4: The Locked Door Is More A Blessing Than A Curse
A chunk of bulletproof metal between the cockpit and people who are quite regularly drunk or crazy has obvious advantages, one of which is the demise of the flight deck visitor. With the advent of PC flight simulators, there were never enough hotties to make up for the many ‘Microsoft-qualified’ know-it-alls. Worse, though, were some of the dads. Having used their offspring as validation for being there, they would then launch into half an hour of “What Does This Do?” while their bored child just picked its nose and wiped it on the jumpseat.
5: If The Plug Is Pulled On GPS, Pray You’re Not Flying
Before GPS, airports had to spend huge amounts on ground-based systems that guaranteed a landing in practically any weather. Nowadays, the unnerving accuracy that GPS brings to the table means onboard computers can do all this using just the satellite information. Naturally, some airport operators have subsequently decided to stop spending a fortune on their stuff, and many of these GPS approaches now have no backup. As a comparison, picture yourself in a car being driven through thick fog by an autopilot linked to the TomTom. You can’t see anything out of the window and have no idea what’s around the next corner. If your passenger accidentally switched off the satnav while trying to mute Coldplay, it’s a fair bet you’d be needing this!