There are those who are content to sit on the ground and watch aircraft soar overhead. Many of us are excited to be passengers, modern-day jet setters who travel the globe.
But for some, the passion for flight is overwhelming, and the need to fly becomes a lifelong obsession.
AN Aviation Services Co. spoke with pilots, who told us why it’s cool to be a pilot. According to research by aerospace giant Boeing, the world will need an additional 637,000 qualified pilots by 2036.
As people across the globe continue to fall in love with travel, demand is skyrocketing – especially in expanding markets such as Asia-Pacific, where a 40 percent growth is expected over the next 20 years.
And it’s not just passenger planes that will need piloting. In early February 2018, delivery giant UPS ordered 14 Boeing 747 freighter aircraft in reaction to the nine percent increase in freight demand they experienced in 2017.
While in today’s economy it can’t hurt to have a job that’s in high demand, there are also plenty of perks to being a pilot.
1. THE PAY IS PRETTY GOOD
According to the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA), the average salary for a pilot is £79,000, with a starting salary of £36,000 and a top end of around £140,000. Not too shabby.
2. YOUR FAMILY REAP THE BENEFITS
While it’s highly likely that you yourself will fly free, many airlines also operate a “buddy system” where you can nominate a certain number of family and friends to take advantage of your cool new job.
Depending on the airline there will be different rules surrounding this, but the most they can expect to pay is the taxes and charges. You could even land an upgrade to first or business class, according to Patrick Smith, a US pilot and author of Cockpit Confidential.
3. IT’S FINE DINING ALL THE WAY
Don’t think that flying the plane will come with the sometimes questionable cuisine that you’re served in the economy. Not only do pilots have to eat different meals to one another, but they also get a much broader choice.
Virgin said: “As our pilots and crew fly weekly, they have different food to our customers in order to offer some variety.” Plenty of airlines also let their pilots choose from the premium menu that business and first-class passengers enjoy.
4. YOU MIGHT BE LABELLED A HERO SIMPLY FOR DOING YOUR JOB
As a pilot, the training that you undergo costs a whopping £80,000 (although this is often covered by the company supporting you through the course). This includes what to do in the event of an accident. Proper execution of emergency procedures can mean that you’ll be swiftly labeled a hero.
The Miracle on the Hudson, where Chesley Sullenberger III’s skillful landing on the water earned him international acclaim, is probably the most famous incident of the last decade.
The story was so good and Sullenberger so admired that in 2016 Clint Eastwood directed Sully, a movie based on the event starring Tom Hanks. Do your job well under pressure and you could find yourself the subject of the next Hollywood blockbuster.
5. YOU GET A UNIFORM YOUR FIVE-YEAR-OLD SELF COULD ONLY DREAM OF
If you were asked as a child what you wanted to be when you grew up and the answer was “pilot”, it’s likely that your choice was based on the knowledge that airline pilots get to wear a pretty cool get-up. Next time you’re in the airport and you spot a pilot, take a look at the people around you and you’ll see how much respect the uniform alone commands.
6. AUTOPILOT DOES MOST OF THE WORK
In 2015, Monarch pilot Sam Bray told Telegraph Travel “on a regular flight the autopilot does around 90 percent of the flying.” And that number isn’t likely to go down.
Surprisingly, it’s not just the airbound version of “cruise control” that they use. At sophisticated airports like Heathrow, there’s also an option to land the plane on autopilot – although that takes away most of the fun.
7. THE VIEW FROM YOUR OFFICE IS PRETTY SPECIAL
If the best sight your office has to offer is a brick wall or a slither of light through a basement window, the view alone that pilots enjoy might be enough to make you seriously consider a career change.
8. YOU’LL GET LOADS OF INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS
With great heights come great views, and in today’s social-media-savvy society, that means one thing – Instagram followers. If you’re flying below 10,000 feet, snapping away on your camera phone is not strictly legal. But once you’re cruising, it’s perfectly fine.
9. YOU CAN AVOID ANNOYING COLLEAGUES
Thanks to the innovative “Do Not Pair” system that airlines have developed, you don’t have to spend hours in a confined space with someone that you can’t stand. Just add the name of the offending colleague to a list and the system will ensure that you never have to share the same cockpit with them again.
10. The View Is Stunning
Until you’ve seen the view from 1,000 feet, you have no idea what you’re missing. It’s magical. With a private pilot license, you can see that view whenever you want. With a commercial pilot license, you can potentially see it every day when you go to work.
It’s common sense, but it’s worth repeating: An office with a view beats a cubicle any day.
11. Flying Makes You Smarter
Becoming a pilot makes you smarter. You’ll gain knowledge that you never thought you would need to know. You’ll become a better planner, a logical decision-maker, and a meteorologist.
You’ll learn good resource management, how to be patient and how to operate safely, with a sense of urgency. You’ll learn to do math in your head quickly. (After all, when your life depends on it, you learn to do all kinds of things quickly.)