Questions tagged [pilots]

For questions specifically pertaining to pilots themselves, rather than aircraft or flying; use [career] instead where applicable.

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103 votes
14 answers
42k views

Can a passenger realistically replace suddenly incapacitated pilots?

Yes, this is a question from the movies. Assume that the plane is in flight and in perfect mechanical conditions. However, all the pilots onboard are suddenly incapacitated. Can a passenger without ...
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88 votes
6 answers
24k views

Why do we still use pilots to fly airplanes?

With the recent advances in drone and remote control technology, why are there still commercial and military pilots? I understand that there can be some serious tactical advantages to human pilots in ...
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86 votes
11 answers
48k views

Do pilots really wear "pilot's watches"?

High-end mechanical wristwatches from Swiss and German manufacturers (e.g. Breitling, Rolex etc.) are often marketed as "pilot's watches", and have chronometer features to supposedly help pilots ...
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62 votes
6 answers
27k views

Why is being a commercial pilot stressful?

Being a commercial airline pilot regularly appears around the top of "most stressful jobs" lists. I do not doubt that this is a stressful job, but as an outsider with no aviation experience ...
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  • 629
61 votes
6 answers
101k views

How do fighter pilots manage food, drink & toilet?

There doesn't seem to be any place to bring food or drink. And what about WC? And for single seat combat planes?
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  • 611
48 votes
2 answers
25k views

How do pilots manage to remember ATC instructions?

Before takeoff, during flight, before landing and for taxiing, pilots are given several instructions by ATC. Do they mentally remember all instructions? Or do they note them down somewhere such as in ...
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41 votes
4 answers
12k views

Do pilots have their own in-flight entertainment?

Besides flying the plane and talking to the person in the other seat, what other forms of entertainment are (also legally) available to pilots while on the job? I'm thinking of 'activities' like ...
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  • 2,466
39 votes
3 answers
39k views

Why are pilots deemed unfit to fly after emergency ejection?

There are many instances where pilots need to eject out of the cockpit due to emergency situations, and after such an ejection from some modern aircraft, pilots are deemed unfit to fly airplanes for ...
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37 votes
2 answers
2k views

How can I find my grandmother's OLD instrument rating documentation?

This is my grandmother, Nathalie Myrtle Brown: The big-eared kid she's posing with is my dad. She has a claim to fame in that she was the first female instrument-rated pilot in the state of Iowa, a ...
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36 votes
5 answers
17k views

Why does flying not have any age restrictions like driving does?

I read an autobiography about Vicki Van Meter, who, with her instructor, flew across the United States at age 11 in 1993. Why could someone of that age not drive with the instructor? Does it have to ...
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36 votes
4 answers
6k views

Why is the position of the pilots' head (eyes) so important?

From this question: What are these Lights on Center Holm between Windows on the A320? I learn that the pilots' eye position is important. Enough to justify an extra piece of equipment. But why? Can't ...
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  • 585
36 votes
2 answers
10k views

What button did a pilot press that led to them being caught for falsifying experience?

I just saw this Newsweek article, Man Pilots Planes for 2 Years After Lying to Airlines About Experience: A man has been sentenced to one year in prison for lying about his job experience before ...
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33 votes
4 answers
44k views

Why does an airplane captain sit in the left seat?

For almost every airline, the captain sits in the left seat, and the first officer on the right. We know that in most countries right-side traffic and some have left-side. During training, the ...
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33 votes
3 answers
12k views

What can airline pilots do if they are no longer in the position to fly, career-wise?

I was having a discussion with a friend about the incident in the past days (4U 9525) and more specifically the what could be described as 'Taboo' of Psychological problems among pilots. We came ...
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29 votes
3 answers
8k views

What's the reason for pilots wearing uniforms?

Just came across an interesting answer to a question on uniforms for PPL Human Performance and Limitations: Pilots wear uniforms: a) so they can be easily recognised b) so that they can be perceived ...
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28 votes
4 answers
10k views

How do pilots travel from remote private airports after landing?

What if you fly your own personal plane to a small private airport in the countryside that has no public transportation? I imagine that most pilots don't have a car parked at each private airport they ...
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  • 383
28 votes
10 answers
9k views

Has someone with no experience at all ever taken off in a plane? Could they?

I was watching Mystery Science Theater 3000 and their showing of 1970 TV movie/pilot San Fransisco International. One of the plots in the movie involves a twelve (or so) year old boy, who, alarmed ...
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  • 383
28 votes
1 answer
12k views

How does a pilot tell passengers to prepare for severe turbulence without causing panic?

At the start of a flight, the pilot of an aircraft often talks about the expected weather on the flight path, and tells passengers if there is to be some turbulence during the flight. How does a ...
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27 votes
6 answers
15k views

What do pilots actually see through the windows?

As I have never flown inside a cockpit, but only played with simulators I find that the dashboard takes most of the field of view(or am I wrong?). So what actually can pilots see given good weather ...
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  • 1,054
26 votes
6 answers
22k views

Can a passenger request to visit the cockpit during a flight?

As a kid, I remember going to the cockpit of a plane with my mom (I believe the airline was AOM French Airlines). Is this still possible now? I understand the answer might differ with different ...
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  • 4,113
26 votes
2 answers
5k views

What to do if the captain smells like alcohol?

Suppose you're the co-pilot on a flight and during pre-flight, talking to the captain, you smell alcohol. Although you didn't see him drinking and the smell isn't strong, what does regulation ...
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24 votes
4 answers
23k views

Is a pilot allowed to sleep during a flight?

While in a flight, a pilot wants to sleep. Given that the aircraft has an autopilot facility, are they allowed to sleep for a while (e.g., half an hour)? What would happen if it's not allowed, but ...
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  • 1,149
24 votes
5 answers
8k views

Why can't airline pilots listen to music while flying? [duplicate]

In an interview I read, a 747 captain (Mark Vanhoenacker, an American British Airways pilot) says he doesn't understand why he cannot listen to music inflight, when for example surgeons – who ...
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24 votes
3 answers
14k views

Left hand seat, is it so important?

With reference to this article on aviation herald at Accident: Shanghai B738 at Shanghai on Jan 3rd 2020, tail strike on landing, captain and first officer swapped seats in flight where the report ...
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  • 1,675
24 votes
2 answers
11k views

Is there an official record of the pilot with the most logged flight time?

We often hear about pilots with 10 or even 20 thousands hours. So I was wondering how much higher this number can go. Do we know which pilot has the most logged time? Is there any official number?
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  • 2,154
24 votes
2 answers
2k views

What qualifications or training allow a test pilot to fly a new aircraft?

What makes a test pilot a test pilot? I'd imagine recovery from unusual attitudes is a must, but aerobatic pilots can do that as well. What training does a test pilot go through, that is unique and ...
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24 votes
3 answers
6k views

What if pilot feels too tired before his flight?

Today is a day when I feel terribly tired. I'm not ill, but I could sleep all the day, though I had enough sleep last night. This is not a problem if you have an office job where you can probably be ...
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  • 7,127
23 votes
3 answers
7k views

What is your responsibility when a distraught pilot is on frequency?

I found the recent SeaTac incident with a suicidal pilot frightening. I myself remember being in very bad places mentally, and it got me to wonder what I should do if someone is on frequency, making ...
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23 votes
2 answers
18k views

How much radiation is an airline pilot exposed to in a year?

Flying exposes us to more radiation since we are closer to the sun, and there is less atmosphere to protect us. Consider an airline pilot flying on a routine and frequent basis. How much radiation is ...
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  • 39.1k
23 votes
3 answers
3k views

Do (or can) pilots observe religious fasts when flying?

This question is about religious fasts like the Muslim Ramadan and others. Is there a civil aviation regulation about this? Must a pilot eat and drink by the regulations (or abstain from flying), or ...
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22 votes
3 answers
6k views

How did pilots avoid thunderstorms and related weather before “reliable” airborne weather radar was introduced on airliners?

How did airline and or mail pilots avoid hazardous weather especially at night before airborne weather radar systems were in use?
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  • 221
22 votes
3 answers
29k views

When does a flight require a copilot?

I was wondering if there are regulations for when a flight requires both a pilot and copilot. I always assumed a copilot is required once civilian passengers are aboard, but when I recently was a ...
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  • 605
22 votes
1 answer
6k views

Can one pilot lock the other out of the cockpit?

One seemingly plausible theory about the MH370 disappearance is that one or other of the pilots locked the other one out of the cockpit and then depressurised the cabin. However, this answer mentions ...
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21 votes
3 answers
3k views

Why do pilots announce the cruising altitude of a flight?

At some early stage in the flight, why will commercial pilots announce the cruising altitude of the flight?
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  • 375
21 votes
1 answer
1k views

Is training and pay different for cargo and airline pilots?

Do cargo pilots receive different training than airline pilots? Are there notable differences in salary or other benefits? My assumption is that since cargo pilots do not have to deal with passengers,...
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  • 6,457
21 votes
3 answers
8k views

Why do commercial helo pilots wear helmets?

I've been on my fair share of commercial helo rides, primarily in Canada. Over the course of more than ten rides in three different kind of helos (Bell 407, 412, and I think one other) there was only ...
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  • 6,799
20 votes
2 answers
8k views

Why pilots would leave the cockpit in a short flight?

I've occasionally read about pilots being locked out of the cockpit in flight, and was wondering: Why might a pilot leave the cockpit during a short flight (1-2 hours)?
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20 votes
3 answers
6k views

How do airlines replace a pilot at the last minute if they're unable to fly?

I would like to know what decision do the commercial airline carriers take when there is emergency case of a pilot who cannot fly the plane because of personal emergency conditions? Emergency ...
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20 votes
3 answers
27k views

Why and when to use flaps?

On a commercial airliner, what is the purpose of the flaps? I understand that depending on which direction they move in, they can be used to decrease airspeed, but I don't know when flaps are used. ...
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  • 507
19 votes
1 answer
2k views

What's the point of writing on a cockpit window?

Why would a pilot write on the cockpit window like this? From: source
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  • 480
18 votes
3 answers
4k views

Has any prior accident been caused by a psychologically unstable and/or suicidal crew member?

I am aware a lot of psychological tests are given to pilots to prevent such a scenario, but those can hardly be perfect, so has any aviation accident been caused (or attempted) by the conscious ...
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18 votes
3 answers
5k views

Does the captain always control thrust on takeoff?

I just read an article about a day in the life of a pilot and it states "The Captain always controls the thrust in the unlikely event that the take-off needs to be aborted for safety reasons." Is this ...
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18 votes
1 answer
4k views

Have pilots encountered a UFO, and what to do if you have?

Have pilots ever encountered a UFO? What guidelines, if any, are in place for times when this happens?
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  • 507
18 votes
1 answer
3k views

What is this board given to a pilot in World War II?

What is this board given to a pilot in World War II?
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  • 183
18 votes
2 answers
2k views

What are the most challenging taxi manoeuvres that a typical commercial airline pilot must execute?

I am currently involved in a University level modelling excercise which looks to investigate the handling qualities of a novel nose wheel steering system. As part of this study, I am interested in ...
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  • 183
18 votes
5 answers
9k views

In order to become a pilot, should an individual have an above average mathematical ability?

I would very much like to become an airline pilot however maths has never been my strongest subject. Are most pilots mathematically adept or can I get away with being average?
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  • 1,181
17 votes
2 answers
8k views

How long does it take to train a commercial pilot to fly a fighter jet?

The question is motivated by the recent events in Ukraine and the Ukrainian parliament on Monday tweeted that Europe was sending 70 fighter planes to Ukraine. If this were to happen, how much time ...
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  • 295
17 votes
3 answers
8k views

How much training does an A320 pilot need to fly an A321?

From flight simulation and from pictures, it appears that the cockpit of the A318, A319, A320, and A321 have few if any differences. Could an A320 pilot fly an A321 without further training? If not, ...
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  • 8,732
17 votes
2 answers
4k views

How do investigators always know the logged flight time of the pilots?

Almost all incident investigation reports include the flight experience of the both pilots with hour accuracy. For instance, for MH370 just a few small fragments of the plane have ever been found, yet ...
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  • 11.6k
17 votes
2 answers
23k views

What exactly is a QRH?

In this question about aircraft dumping fuel I was told that there may possible be guidance in the QRH. I know that there are a lot of guidelines given to pilots, but I've never heard of this one. ...
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