"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."
- Leonardo da VinciAs I have probably mentioned before (both explicitly and implicitly) I love to fly. I don't care how much of a hassle people complain it is. The fact that we humans, a land based life-form, can lift off the ground and soar 30,000 ft above the clouds and travel thousands of miles in a matter of hours is nothing short of amazing. And yet we all take it for granted. In my opinion, flight, is perhaps mankind's greatest achievement.
If I had the money, I would fly everywhere. Whether it be the next state over, across the country, or across the world. For it is from the skies, you can see far more than you could ever see on foot. It gives you a whole new perspective on the world.
Lately I have been contemplating the prospect of becoming a pilot. To me it seems like a dream job. A six-figure salary, all the benefits you could ever need, and best of all, you get to travel around the world for free. Not to mention you get to enjoy views like the ones in the video above.
Ever since I was a child, I loved going to the airport, even if I was not flying. I was fascinated by the movement of the planes across the tarmac as well as the ground operations. I would spend the whole time staring outside the window, frustrated that I couldn't get a better view.
However, it is my understanding that becoming one requires long term commitment and sacrifice. Flying a plane requires immense skill that isn't acquired overnight. For starters, you need a Bachelor's degree (in any subject) before you can enter flight school. From there, years of training of are needed before you can even think about applying for a job with an airline. You need to have good knowledge of physics, aeronautics and meteorology, and log at least 1000 flight hours. By the time you finally get a job in the industry, you'll likely be in your early 30s. Things won't be glamorous at first. Most amateur pilots start with cargo or regional jets and make a median salary of around 60k (which is still a nice starting salary). From there you move on to narrow-bodies and finally, wide-bodies. The rate at which you rise through the ranks depends on the generosity of your employer (and of course your performance). It can be as short as 3 years or as long as 10. Pilots also tend to work in chunks. It's not a day job where you fly to a city and back home in time for dinner. Pilots will typically work weeks at a time, living out of hotel rooms and their suitcases (but they also get weeks off at a time as well). This puts immense strain on their social lives. Pilots are often separated from friends and loved ones due to their work schedule and this leads to high divorce rates. This is probably the biggest con of a career in aviation.
So next time you fly, put into perspective just exactly what you are doing. You are doing something mankind has dreamed of for thousands of years. To soar with the birds. And be thankful for the men and women of the Aviation industry who work hard to make it all possible.