The secret life behind the cockpit door. Rob Graves, an airline Captain, betrays the profession telling all the details of what it's like to be an airline pilot from dodging thunderstorms to life in hotels.
Saturday, November 15, 2014
The field of aviation is known for lots of homespun wisdom and gallows humor. The true nature of the business is that you can die if you don't do it right (and sometimes if you do). Here are a few of the more popular ones:
Courtesy Aviation Airborne
How to fly: Aviate, Navigate, Communicate (and in that order)
Thou shalt maintain thy airspeed, lest the ground reach up and smite thee.
Superior pilots are those who use their superior judgment to avoid those situations requiring their superior skills.
The only time you have too much fuel is when you're on fire.
In a twin-engine aircraft, the purpose of the second engine is to supply the pilot with enough power to fly to the scene of the crash.
When a prang seems inevitable, endeavor to strike the softest, cheapest object in the vicinity, as slowly and gently as possible. - Advice given to RAF pilots during W.W.II.
When in doubt, hold on to your altitude. No-one has ever collided with the sky.
Try to learn from the mistakes of others. You won't live long enough to make all of them yourself.
If God had meant man to fly, he'd have given him lots more money.
You've never been lost until you've been lost at Mach 3.
Airspeed, altitude or brains: Pick any two.
When a flight is proceeding incredibly well, something may be forgotten.
Just remember, if you crash because of weather, your funeral will be held on a sunny day. - Layton A. Bennett
Never fly the 'A' model of anything. - Ed Thompson
A pilot who doesn't have any fear probably isn't flying his plane to its maximum. - Jon McBride, astronaut
If you're faced with a forced landing, fly the thing as far into the crash as possible. - Bob Hoover
If an airplane is still in one piece, don't cheat on it; Ride the bastard down. - Ernest K. Gann, advice from the 'old pelican'
Though I Fly Through the Valley of Death I Shall Fear No Evil For I Am 80,000 Feet and Climbing. - Sign over the entrance to the SR-71 operating location on Kadena.
Never fly in the same cockpit with someone braver than you. - Richard Herman, Jr., 'Firebreak'
There is no reason to fly through a thunderstorm in peacetime. - Sign over squadron ops desk at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ, 1970.
The three best things in life are a good landing, a good orgasm, and a good bowel movement. The night carrier landing is one of the few opportunities in life to experience all three at the same time.
Try to stay in the middle of the air. Do not go near the edges of it. The edges of the air can be recognized by the appearance of ground, buildings, sea, trees and interstellar space. It is much more difficult to fly there.
The three most common expressions in aviation are, "Why is it doing that?", "Where are we?" and "Oh Crap".
Weather forecasts are horoscopes with numbers.
A smooth landing is mostly luck; two in a row is all luck; three in a row is prevarication.
Helicopters are for the rich... or the enlisted.
I remember when sex was safe and flying was dangerous.
We have a perfect record in aviation: we never left one up there!
Flashlights are tubular metal containers kept in a flight bag for the purpose of storing dead batteries.
Flying the airplane is more important than radioing your plight to a person on the ground incapable of understanding it.
What is the similarity between air traffic controllers and pilots? If a pilot screws up, the pilot dies; If ATC screws up, the pilot dies.
If something hasn't broken on your helicopter, it's about to.
Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous. But to an even greater degree than the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect. - Captain A. G. Lamplugh
In flying I have learned that carelessness and overconfidence are usually far more dangerous than deliberately accepted risks. - Wilbur Wright in a letter to his father, September 1900
The ultimate responsibility of the pilot is to fulfill the dreams of the countless millions of earthbound ancestors who could only stare skyward and wish.
If helicopters are so safe, how come there are no vintage / classic helicopter fly-ins?
A 'good' landing is one from which you can walk away. A 'great' landing is one after which they can use the aeroplane again.
Takeoff is optional. Landing is mandatory...
If you push the stick forward, the houses get bigger. If you pull the stick back, they get smaller. That is, unless you keep pulling the stick all the way back, then they get bigger again.
Flying isn't dangerous. Crashing is what's dangerous.
One of the most important skills that a pilot must develop is the skill to ignore those things that were designed by non-pilots to get the pilot's attention.
It's always better to be down on the ground wishing you were up in the air than up in the air wishing you were down on the ground.
The probability of survival is inversely proportional to the angle of arrival.
Stay out of clouds. Reliable sources report that mountains have been known to hide out in clouds.
You start with a full bag of luck and an empty bag of experience. The trick is to fill the bag of experience before you empty the bag of luck.
In the ongoing battle between objects made of aluminum going hundreds of miles per hour and the ground going zero miles per hour, the ground has yet to lose.
Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.
Keep looking around. There's always something you've missed.
Remember, gravity is not just a good idea, it's the law. And it's not subject to repeal.
There are old pilots and there are bold pilots. However, there are no old, bold pilots.
If you're ever faced with a forced landing at night, turn on the landing lights to see the landing area. If you don't like what you see, turn' em back off.
Always remember you fly an aeroplane with your head, not your hands.
You know you've landed with the wheels up when it takes full power to taxi to the ramp.
Things which do you no good in aviation: The sky above you. The runway behind you. The fuel still in the truck. Half a second ago. Approach plates in the car. The airspeed you don't have.
What's the difference between God and fighter pilots? God doesn't think he's a fighter pilot.
Trust your captain but keep your seat belt securely fastened.
An aircraft may disappoint a good pilot, but it won't surprise him.
There are only two things required to fly a modern airliner: a pilot and a dog. It's the pilot's job to feed the dog. It's the dog's job to bite the pilot if he touches anything in the cockpit.
Aviation is not so much a profession as it is a disease.
There are three simple rules for making a smooth landing. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
Passengers prefer old captains and young flight attendants.
The only thing worse than a captain who never flew as copilot is a copilot who once was a captain.
If the wings are traveling faster than the fuselage, it's probably a helicopter...
Any attempt to stretch fuel is guaranteed to increase head wind.
A thunderstorm is never as bad on the inside as it appears on the outside. It's worse.
I know there's a lot of money in aviation because I put it there.
It's easy to make a small fortune in aviation. You just start off with a large fortune.
I'd rather be lucky than good.
The propeller is just a big fan in the front of the plane to keep the pilot cool. When it stops, pilots start to sweat.
Regards engine power: Lots is good, more is better, and too much is just enough.
A checkride ought to be like a skirt, short enough to be interesting but still be long enough to cover everything.
Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.
It's better to be down here wishing you were up there, than to be up there wishing you were down here.
Experience is a hard teacher. First comes the test, then the lesson.
In thrust I trust.
It is far better to arrive late in this world than early in the next.
You can land anywhere once.
I want to die like my grandfather did, peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming in terror like his passengers.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it; if it ain't fixed, don't fly it.
Fuel in the tanks is limited. Gravity is forever.
Never trust a fuel gauge.
The worst day of flying still beats the best day of real work.
Posted by The Captain at 8:32 AM
Filed under: air traffic control, airlines, aviation, pilots, war story
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