Man has always been fascinated with flight. As soon as there were forms of
communication, sculptures, carvings, and paintings of beings with wings appeared.
>From the winged bulls guarding the halls of ancient Persia to the winged horse
Pegasus from Greek Mythology, the idea was clear and simple. To fly is to
conquer, to dominate, to be as a god ( Josephy 11- 12 ).
These early individuals dreamed and experimented with the idea of flight.
In the modern world many people take flight for granted. Flying is one of the
newest forms of transportation, it has only been around for about ninety years.
With such a new concept there are still millions of ways to improve the airplane
for the pilot ( Burford 50 ).
First, the best known pilots are the commercial airline pilots who fly for the
large airlines. They are responsible, highly-paid professionals: " who are in
complete command of their crew, their plane, and their passengers during the time
in which the plane is in motion" ( Hopke 110 ). When talking with John Wilder
( Former Air Force pilot and now airline pilot, for America West), I found that
flying a large plane is a difficult and responsible job, an one that requires great
skill and knowledge. The pilot has people that aid with the job. When the pilot
lands his plane at its distination, there are many additional duties to perform. The
pilot files a flight report in the office, discharges all responsibilities to the crew,
and turns the plane over to the maintenance department. The Pilot then is free to
rest until he takes another plane out.
Next, all prospective pilots should complete college. Courses in
meteorology, physics, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and mechanical drawing
are helpful in preparing for a pilot\'s career. The physical and emotional health of
the student who is interested in becoming a pilot is the most important
requirements. Emotional stability is essential, " because the safety of other people
depends upon a pilot remaining calm and level-headed, no matter how trying the
situation" ( Hopke 111 ). Physical health is equally important. Vision and hearing
must be perfect, coordination must be excellent, heart and blood pressure must be
normal. To become a pilot, certain rigid training requirements must be met. All
pilots and copilots must be licensed by the Federal Aviation Association before
applying for commercial flying. The candidate must pass a physical and written
test covering:" safe flight operation, Federal Aviation Regulation, navigation
principles, radio operation, and meteorology" ( Hopke 111-12 ).
Also, John Wilder says," A large percentage of commercial pilots have
received their training in the armed forces." A military pilot who wants to apply
for a commercial airplane pilot\'s license is required to pass only the Federal
Aviation Regulations examination if application is made within a year after leaving
the service Wilder told me. Pilots possessing the necessary qualifications and
license may apply directly to a commercial airline for a job. If accepted, they will
go through a company orientation course, usually including both classroom
instruction and practical training in company planes ( Hopke 112 ).
In addition, the advancement of pilots is different from most professions.
The flight engineer with a large commercial airline may spend two to seven years
in the grade before being promoted to co-pilot and another five to fifteen years
before becoming captain. Seniority is the pilot\'s most important asset. If a pilot
leaves one employer and goes to another, they must start at the bottom no matter
how much experience they have. The position of captain on a large airline is:"
High-seniority, High-prestige job, which may take most of a pilots career to
obtain" ( Hopke 112-13 ).
Next, the employment outlook for a pilot looks very good through the end
of the 1990\'s. Competition is expected to diminish as the many pilots who were
hired during the boom of the 1960\'s begin to reach mandatory retirement age. In
addition, John Wilder says," military has increased its benefits and incentives,
many pilots choose to remain in the service." These factors are expected to create
a shortage of qualified pilots.
Finally, airline pilots are among the highest paid workers in the country.
The average earnings of airline pilots are about $80,000 a