Saturday, September 22, 2007

Being ... Where?

Many pilots yearn to fly bigger, more complex and more sophisticated aircraft. I'm one of those pilots. Perhaps it's because a bigger plane means more responsibility and the ability to travel long distances. A bigger plane most often means more performance, two or more crew members, and the ability to fly above most weather: Enhanced safety, in other words.

Could it be that many pilots are looking to upgrade to a bigger aircraft for another reason? As a professional flight instructor I often feel a bit like Rodney Dangerfield - "I don't get any respect around here." Bigger planes are a higher priority to ATC, both on the ground and in the air. Smaller aircraft are often seen by ATC as an annoyance.

Every now and again, I have a dream that I'm back at my old freight job. It's usually not a particularly pleasant dream. The weather is usually in the toilet, there's some schedule pressure, or I'm scheduled to fly a type of aircraft I've never seen before. This is the stuff of the classic anxiety dream. Non-pilots may dream that they have an important test to take or that they just got on the subway in their pajamas, or some other tense situation. Interestingly, I've never had an anxiety dream about giving flight instruction.

Last night, I had a dream that I had gone to work for a new carrier. I was about to start indoc training and was handed a stack of binders - company policies and procedures, aircraft manuals, op spec, hazmat data, and the like. The feeling in the dream was not a good one until I opened the binder on the aircraft and realized it's not a Caravan, but something much different - a pressurized, twin engine, turbo-prop with a takeoff weight over 12,500 pounds. The uneasy feeling eased, a bit.

What precipitated that dream was probably my mulling over just such a job. I'm probably a shoe-in, I wouldn't have to move, or at least not move very far. The schedule could be a bit hard - lots of late nights and early mornings. And I'm no spring chicken, either. For those younger readers, sleepless nights and time zone shifting only gets harder to handle as you approach your 4th or 5th decade on the planet. And I have no idea if the new job would allow me to give flight instruction.

So where do I want to be? Where does any of us want to be, really? What matters most? Quality of life? Being pretty much assured of a good night's sleep? Or having the thrill and sense of accomplishment of flying something bigger, faster, and more complicated with the added possibility of getting more respect? Or is the grass always greener on the other side, the side we're not occupying?

Ah, there's the rub.


Ron said...

You are so right. And it's not just small airplanes. CFIs don't get any respect, even from others who hold the same job. Unless you have aspirations of flying an aluminum tube between the same 5 or 6 destinations all day, every day, people treat you like there must be something wrong with you.

TonyHarr said...

I think if you have the itch, you need to scratch it. There would be nothing worse than looking back in years to come thinking "if only I had ". Hindsight does not help a great deal, unless it helps chart a course for a new direction. Or stop you repeating the mistakes of the past.

That's why I'm enrolled in my Master's degree at the age of 39, (part time) so I can make a change in my career.

Go on, you know you (probably!) want to!

Anonymous said...

Gonna go fly the sewer tube for Amerifright? Good luck!!

john said...

Listen to tonyharr.
Do what you like not what you think you ought to do. After all, suppose you try it and don't like it, You were looking for job when you found that one weren't you?

When you fly, you alway have a backup plan don't you? Why should life be any different

Don't end up with the "If I only..."

I tried my own business and failed after 8 years but I'm still glad I tried it.

Anonymous said...

You probably didn't get into flying so you could fly Duchess' and 206's. Flying is supposed to be fun.