During a pleasant evening a little over a month ago I was sitting around a camp fire with a group of pilots. We were swaping stories. A 747 pilot mentioned that he had worked in the wrong end of the plane. I was perplexed.
I have always found pilots to be aspirational. They have a great view of the world. Pilots can make some good money. They get to play with some very cool machines, and they travel. Yes I am in awe of pilots.
A 747 pilot was close to the top of pilot hierarchy, and it showed. His camp was neat and simple with a touch of sophistication. Me, I bumbled about and muddled by trying to be comfortable. Neighboring campers were amused by my tribulations. Yet in the end I had a comfortable camp.
I have listened to many pilots. I have heard the stories of a Gulfstream G650 pilot, listened to what it is like to fly into Bagdad during war. I have even have chatted with a top gun pilot or two. Even the stories of the pilots of the most simple of ultralights bring me joy. I have always been in awe. When I look up into the sky and see a contrails it matters not the plane. I can check flight aware and see the type of plane. At some point I have chatted with a pilot that has flown one of those.
during all these conversations I have never encountered a conversation where the pilot wished he had a different job. The 747 is an absolutely magnificent aircraft. I can’t begin to imagine what it would be like to fly such an aircraft. My mind is boggled.
Not all aircraft are filled with large groups of people or packages. Some time ago I was very surprised to learn some jets had fancy living rooms in the back. I was talking with the pilot of a jet that made a daily trip to California. I had thought It was filled with fresh produce as it was owned by a large grocery company. I was asking the pilot what type of produce was in the back, when he said it was just a living room back there with a couple of people in it. No he did not know what they did.
When people tell me they want to live in Cuba, I ask why would you want to live in Cuba. They will tell me something about free healthcare or free education. I will look at them perplexed and say “Rich people in Cuba will have a 50 year old car, rich people in America have jets” as much as I like a 50 year old car, I would rather know someone with a jet.
So when we were sitting around the campfire and my friend the 747 pilot said he worked in the wrong end of the plane, I had to ask why. He said the real money was made in the back. I was somewhat taken aback, yet to a certain extent I had to agree. But really, if I could afford a jet, I would want to fly it.
Still, there are people out there are just as happy to be in the back of the jet. That is OK, because they are actually paying someone to fly the jet. Additonally, there are many people that build and maintain the jet. For the most of them life is good. Also, for the vast majority of people that fly the planes, they think life is very good.