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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Pilots: Is the Career Diffiicult?

Over the weekend I received a question from a young man in Paris. Carlos is interested in becoming a pilot and he had a question about the career: 

Is it difficult?

Difficult has many meanings depending upon who you ask. And there are many aspects of this job that could be difficult to some, whereas they are not to others. So I will do my best to answer your question.


The aspects of the job that was probably most difficult was being a woman starting out in a field that was traditionally male. In hindsight some of those challenges are humorous. But I did feel that my performance was representative of all the women coming behind me. What this challenge presented was an attitude of perfection and always striving to be the best I could. In hindsight, I think this is my personality and I would have done it anyway. But the added pressure was on.

Building hours, is always one of the greatest challenges in getting the job. Times have changed from when I started, but this will be your greatest challenge prior to getting the job. For more information on how to build hours check out How to Build Flight Hours.

For a female pilot, being a mother was a huge challenge. Today in the US husbands are more involved in the domestic care of children and household. Not when I started flying. I came home to piles of laundry, dishes heaped on the counters, and a house to dig through. I spent many weeks awake all night catching up. My recommendation to my any woman (or man) in this field.... it to get a housekeeper! 

Ladies... you do not have to be supermom. You can get help on the domestic stuff, and enjoy the family on your days off.

My babies all grown up

The job itself... TSA and navigating security is the greatest challenge for most pilots today. That's the way it is even if you travel for fun. So, we just have to get used  to it.

Learning the equipment... Not difficult for me, because I find the technical stuff fascinating. I love to learn, so I go in with a different mindset. I also love to fly. 

The greatest challenge is staying healthy and learning how to sleep as you navigate the oceans, from crossing to crossing. Not as easy as you think on the road.

Is the job difficult? It has it's moments. But then anything worth having must have challenges... it makes it worth having. Besides... if it were too easy complacency would set in. Oh wait... did I just write that? Yes...

Fighting complacency 
is the greatest challenge today. 

This is your recipe for success!

Enjoy the journey and all the challenges.
XO Karlene  

1 comment:

  1. The two most challenging aspects for me are (a) the personal life. As a commuter, it can be difficult balancing the personal and work lives. Sometimes you may be away from home far longer than you imagined/want to be, and it takes an understanding partner/family to work through that with you. If you live where you are based, then things may be better. (b) fighting complacency. You have to keep yourself motivated to continue improving as a pilot and learning. Sometimes you might be in a challenging/frustrating environment; or maybe you might be in a job where you do the same routes day-in and day out, and it starts to become monotonous. The stress or the working environment and the monotony can potentially sap your motivation; but you've got to dig deep and constantly look for ways to keep learning and improve yourself. And above all, don't take it for granted!


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