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Published:May 14th, 2007 04:01 EST
A Day in the Life of a Pilot

A Day in the Life of a Pilot

By Libby Block

Many people have flown on a plane before. Some people fly every day. My question is “what is it like from the pilot’s point of view?” I think it’s fun to take off and land. The part in between is boring though. Haven’t you wondered what they do the whole time while flying a plane? What do they think about, worry about or do?

I have wondered about these questions and I decided it would be sky high to interview one. So I did. I spend part of my day with Captain Stephen Williamson, a senior officer who works for Frontier Airlines, based in Denver Colorado. Here are some of the questions I asked and the answers I got.

Q: What are the pilot’s responsibilities?

A: The main thing is safety.

Q: How do you feel knowing the passengers’ lives are in your hands?

A: I am comfortable with it but I don’t take it for granted because my life is at risk too. I am always paying attention to safety.

Q: When is the safest time to fly?

A: At night because there is less traffic on the ground and in the sky.

Q: What do you have to do to become a pilot?

A: There are two ways to become a pilot. There is the military way or the non-military way. The military route means the government will pay all your expenses if you work in the military for nine years. If you do non-military, you have to pay all your expenses by yourself and this way costs a lot of money. It could cost over $100,000 to become an experienced pilot.

Q: Have you ever been in a scary situation while on board an aircraft and if so what?

A: Yes, once during take off, a large bird flew in front of the plane. It hit the front window and cracked it. We continued our take off but quickly, turned back to land so that we could get it fixed.

Q: What is the best part about being a pilot?

A: You get to see the world, travel all over, and meet new people.

Q: Who have you flown as passengers that are well known?

A: Jesse Jackson, Alicia Keys and Doc Powell.

Q: Why did you want to become a pilot?

A: My dad was a pilot and I flew all over with him. I ended up being hooked.

Q: What special bonuses do you get as a pilot?

A: My family flies for free and I get ten “buddy” passes per year that I can give away to friends.

Q: How long are you gone at a time?

A: I work about 10 or 11 days per month and I travel about 2 to 3 days at a time.

Q: What is your commute?

A: My commute usually has two segments. For example, I drive to the airport, fly to the destination I need to be at and then I start my job. Technically, I could travel 1,000 miles or more even before I start my work for the day.

Q: What company do you work for?

A: Frontier Airlines.

Q: When do you feel the most calm flying the plane?

A: I feel good during all stages of the flight but there is more work to be done during take off and landing. I can relax a little more when we are cruising at high altitudes.

Well, I figured out what I wanted to know. I found out what the pilot has to go through to get this kind of job. I also learned what he has to do just to get to work and I found out what he likes about flying – plus a lot more. I found Captain Stephen to be a very interesting person to interview and I learned a lot about this very important job. Tune in next time when I share another interesting person and job. Just keep reading.

Libby Block is a gifted 5th grade writer who has already published her first book. The second book is in production and the third is being “dreamt up” right now.