social life of a pilot

Family, friends and sex - the social life of a pilot

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Hello my Aviator

lately, I posted a question on my Instagram stories asking you for ideas for my next blog post. Your feedback was impressive, but one topic came up numerous times: the social life of a pilot. In this blog post, I will be answering your questions regarding the social life of a pilot. Does a pilot have friends, family and sex when traveling all the time?

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Check out also my new Video on my YouTube channel.

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Pilot life vs. social life

You have been wondering how I manage to have a social/private life as a pilot when traveling so much and being absent from home a lot. Especially those of you who strive to become a pilot in the future asked me this question and informed me about their concerns. Everything is still possible but only a little bit more complicated.

Which challenges do pilots face balancing a long lasting relationship vs. work?

First off all a relationship is possible, but definitely not easy. In my case, I am gone from home about 15 days a month. Imagine the other partner has also to travel for work. This requires good planning to have enough time together to keep the relationship running. Another challenge couples could face are the base (the location from where crews start their duty) It happens that you need to relocate for a new cockpit job, but the partner is unable to move with you. Aviation requires flexibility in many ways.

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With friends in Dubai

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Mile high club

In case it counts when I saw a couple having fun, then I joined the mile high club already ;-) The story behind it: I was flying as a private first officer when a woman had her head between the lap of a man. There was no door between the cockpit and the cabin in this aircraft only a curtain. I had a look behind to check if the two passengers are okay, and I had to find out that they were having a good time on board.

Sex life and affairs with stewardesses

Yes, pilots do have a sex life like everyone else. Since the beginning of my career, I have been running quite well not to f*** the company. Relationship and affairs within the same company only cause problems. Especially in smaller companies. In the private jet company, I used to fly for I got to know a flight attended how had sex with a captain, then moved on to the head of flight operations and in the end, she was in the relationship with a First Officer. You can imagine that this was not easy for everyone involved.

One reason why there is so much "love" in the air in aviation is that crews are sometimes stuck together for days and that they are forced to work together in a small environment

Nude flying!

I have never heard of this! the only thing we take off is the airplane and the tie when it is too hot outside. haha!

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Private jet crew

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Does it depend on the airline how your social life looks like

The flight operation in the Business Aviation required me to overnight at those locations wherever the last flight of the day took me. Whereas the flights of many low-cost airlines end at their home base, which equals basically to a 9 to 5 job. The current operation once in while allows me to spend a night at home or it happens that a rotation is only of 2-3 days. But I could imagine that an operation, which allows you to sleep at home every night, can be a big advantage once you want to build a family.

As you can see it really depends on the type of operation and airline how many days a month you can spend at home. A minimum of 8 days are granted by the aviation authority. But only 8 days at home this would be not enough for me to have enough time for family, friends and hobbies. 

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8 years in Berlin

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Do you miss out on anything in your private life?

I have arranged myself with the absence from home quite well. I have a social life with friends and private activities like everyone else. Unfortunately, I can not attend all events (like birthdays, concerts, parties and family events) but due to good organization skills I get the best of my free time and I never have a big feeling that I miss out on something.

The benefits of a pilot life?

The greatest benefit of a pilot is that I get paid for traveling. When I finish my duty I leave work behind in the airplane and so I can use my off time to the fullest. Then I have minimum 4 days off in a row guaranteed without taking leave.

Watch my video on my YouTube channel to find out what I do during my off days in Berlin.

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Please be aware that those are my impressions and feelings. There probably pilots who would tell you something else.

Are you interested in a working day of a private jet pilot? Then check out my blog series a busy day of a private jet pilot.

Could you imagine to have a travel job and which problems do you face in your job?

Safe travels and happy landings!

Your Pilot Patrick

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healthy diet while traveling

How I maintain a healthy diet while traveling

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Hello my Aviator,

my friends and colleagues once in a while call me complicated when it comes to food. Some also think that I am crazy because I carry an extra bag next to the pilot case and my big suitcase. But in my opinion, it is clever what I am doing. Our bodies are precious and that is I why I take good care of it. My food bag allows me to maintain my healthy eating habits while traveling.

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Smoothie cookies by Ultrafrisch

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The difficulty of this job

My career has a pilot just turn eight and already at an early stage of my aviation career, I noticed that it is difficult to maintain a healthy diet as a pilot. All my cockpit jobs required me to spend layovers at different destinations. In a month I am gone from home somewhere between 10-16 days. When traveling non-stop, you have to rely on the food of hotels, restaurants, airline catering and outlets at the airport.

Here another example. Currently, I am in Madrid and the hotel is located close to the airport. It is more than 30 minutes from the city center. There are restaurants close by, but they do not meet my eating habits. Additionally, I waste a lot of time when going to a restaurant.

To stay healthy I fuel my body with the best possible food. I take particular care about the ingredients and the organic quality. My food bag makes me a little bit more independent. So I can enjoy a healthy rice dish out of my food bag tonight.

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Four simple guidelines

I follow four simple guidelines when choosing my food:

  • NO raffinated sugars
  • NO dairy products
  • NO white flour
  • NO saturated fats

Are you vegan?

No. I eat fish and eggs almost on a daily basis. I eat meat, but only once a week. I try to avoid meat during my pilot travels because I can not be sure about the quality. Lately, I tried to be vegan for one week of flying. In my YouTube video, you can see how I managed and find out why veganism is not an option for me.

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What's in my food bag?

I used to carry my food in my suitcase up to the day when a almond milk spilled and ruined my clothes. For years now I am traveling with this cool bag with insulation inside. This way I can bridge the time between refrigerators for perishable food.

Almond milk: only of almonds and water, dairy free, sugar-free version

Cereal: sugar-free and vegan with dried fruits, my favorite Chia Cacao Crunch

Porridge: gluten-free vegan porridge of quinoa flaxseeds, for the super porridge you only need hot water to prepare it

Rice cups: rice dish with vegetables, the product of Davert is ideal for traveling, you only need hot water to prepare it, unfortunately it contains sugar but only about 1g in 100g.

Smoothie cookies: liquid is heavy and smoothies need cooling, smoothie cookies of Ultrafrisch are crunchy and contain only fruits and vegetables

More food: peanut mush (only of nuts), whole wheat crispbread, raw bars of nuts and dried fruits, dates, tea bags, fruit (mostly organic bananas), nuts (unsalted and not roasted), raw chocolate

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Selection of my food I am traveling with

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My daily dose of superfoods

Lemon tea: Rich in natural Vitamin C. The juice is antibacterial, antiphlogistic and digestive. Curcuma water

Curcuma (curcuma longa): contains curcumin and is one of the most significant medical plant. Especially in China and India, it is well known for its antiphlogistic effects.

Spirulina: is an alga which was already consumed by Aztecs. The concentration of vitamins and minerals is the highest which has been found yet.

Check out my superfoods article if you want to find out more about their positive side effects

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More about my superfoods here in my article

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Do you know raw chocolate?

As much as possible I try to avoid food that contains raffinated sugar. Sugar is toxic for your body and fuels cancer cells. A great and natural alternative is XUCKER and coconut sugar. Of course, all sources of natural sugar like from fruits are acceptable. I am not the guy who loves sweet stuff, but once in a while, I have a craving for chocolate. I have discovered raw chocolate for me. Raw chocolate itself is really bitter, but in addition to dried fruits and nuts, it tastes sweet.

 

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Sweet treat: raw chocolate

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Raw bars: 100% natural and only of nuts and dried fruits

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... and besides my food bag?

It sounds like that I am only eating out of my food bag. That is not the case. In the morning I go to breakfast in the hotel. WIth my food bag, I can pimp my breakfast. I am honestly shocked by the bad selection of good and healthy food. Especially during my vegan week, I missed a declaration of the ingredients on the buffet.

To find healthy restaurants, coffee places or supermarkets, I can recommend using the App „Happy Cow“ This app has already led me to many nice places in numerous cities around the whole world.

 

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Pimp my crew meal in London

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On board: sugar free vegan cereal

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I never have the impression that I miss out on any food because there is always a healthy option available which tastes equally good or even better.

Is the whole effort worth it?

Yes, I am convinced that it is worth it. I carry a lot of extra weight, but this way I can eat well even when being busy traveling.  No idea if my body stays healthy for a long time, but If does not I cannot blame myself that I fueled it incorrect.

What's your favorite healthy snack?

Safe travels and happy landings!

Your foodie PilotPatrick

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pilot pros and cons of a dream job

Ten years being a pilot: Pros and cons of a dream job

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Hello my Aviator,

I am now working ten years in the aviation industry. Exactly one decade ago, I signed the contract with the flight school to become a commercial pilot. I take this anniversary as an occasion to recap my time as a first officer. Being a pilot is still a dream job for me. On my social media everything might look perfect, but this job also downsides, which I will reveal in this blog post.

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office above the clouds

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But let's start with the aspect which annoys me the most of being a pilot. Security checks. As a private jet pilot, I had the privilege to skip security controls at many destinations. But now I have to pass security every time without any exception.

At the airport the Paris security they treat pilots like a potential terrorist.

This is so ridiculous when you take in to account that all crew members have a valid background check. Recently they wanted to see my turmeric powder in my food bag. They checked it for liquids?! In front of the security staff, I had to taste the spice to proof this it is not an explosive. You can take it only with humor!

 

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Flight school

After I graduated high school I started right away preparing for the assessment to become a flight student for Lufthansa. I failed the first step of the selection process. One reason for that was my nervosity at that time.

Back then I was really sad about this but now I see it from a whole new perspective and I am actually happy that I failed the test.

I took the more difficult way to become a pilot. The flight training was self-funded, which made me put even more effort into it. I had to find a job after graduating. It was also tough to start my aviation career as a first officer on a Private Jet. The "Lufthansa way" would have been the easy way but would definitely not made the person and pilot I am today.

Pros: You have the time of your life with lots of studying and flying.

Cons: No job guarantee with a self-funded training. It is high risk to take of not getting a job.

 

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Airbus A300 prior departure

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Pilot Licence

It is not an easy and inexpensive path to obtain the license to fly commercial airplanes. But in the end, it is "only" a license and not an occupational education nor a degree. Health restrictions could cause that you are not able to fly, thus you can not pursue your profession. As a back up I got a loss of license. This insurance costs me 150€ a month and pays in case I am not able to fly anymore.

Cons: If you lose your medical you lose your license and you cannot fly anymore. In case you did not study you are left without any education.

Pros: You are in control of a powerful machine

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Job security

Aviation is a volatile business with great ups and downs. As an employee, you are dependent on the profitability of your airline. If an airline cannot cope with a crisis or suffers from bad management (airberlin) pilots are not needed anymore.

Cons: You are only needed as long there are flights and aircraft. This profession is highly specialized you can only fly aircraft and you are type rated on one special aircraft.

Pros: No office day is the same. You can enjoy the good reputation of being a pilot and you get paid to fly.

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Hamburg airport photo by Pando Hall

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Salary

The days of making a fortune as a pilot are over. A good availability of pilots on the market causes that working conditions and salary to drop. Especially as copilot, the current time is not easy. My net salary was around 2800€ when I started in 2010. Luckily, I did not have to pay for my flight training, because my parents took care of it. Imagine if have to pay back the costs of the license (70.000€) plus the type rating costs (20.000€) it would take ages and would not leave any money left to save.

Salary is not the same and highly depends on the company you work for. In the meantime, I earn as much as a captain does at my last employer. I paid back my costs for my type rating and I don't have any debts.

Pros: The captain salary enables you to have a good life. Some of the perks your salary are tax-free, which increases your net salary significantly.

Cons: Pilot salaries differ greatly. Even "Pay to fly models" exist where pilots have to pay the airline to fly. You have to invest a lot and work hard to boost your income.

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Mid air selfie

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Social life and free time

Do you have a social life? I have been getting asked this question many times. Of course, I do like everyone else.

But it requires good organization and planning to see friends and family.

I often have free time during the week when the majority has to work and has no time. But one part what I like most about my job, I do not take work home with me.

Pros: I have more than ten off days in a month. (German law requires a minimum of eight) Sometimes it is even half of the month that I am not flying. Between duty days I can at least enjoy four off days in a row without taking leave. In which kind of job do you have this?

Cons: You are not home. About half of the month I am not at home, so I can not attend all family and friends events. It is not possible to attend weekly courses (like a language course)

Watch my YouTube video about my off days at home in Berlin. Please subscribe.

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Layovers

The past 10 years I have been to hundreds of different locations in Europe, North Africa and Russia. As a private jet and as an airline pilot I am having layovers outside of my home base. The time I get to spend at one destination ranges from minimum rest (10 hours) up to two days. As a private jet pilot, the destinations were varying all the time and I really liked that I got to choose the crew hotel myself. You can imagine that I did not stay in the worst place. ;)

Pros: I have a fixed flight schedule and I know how much time I have at one destination. I can really use my rest time to do activities.

Cons: The network is limited so I get to stay in the same destination more often. A good example for this is Sevilla. It is almost my second home. After a while, this can become less exciting.

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Layover in Sevilla photo by Rocío

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Working hours

The pilot profession has probably the most irregular working hours. Aviation does not know weekends or public holidays. Some days you only have one flight the other day maybe three flights and instead of four hours duty 11 hours. Fortunately, I do not have to cope with jet lag, since I am flying within Europe. As a private jet pilot, I mostly flew during the day since VIPs do not like to get up early. But now I am flying also at night, which is a lot of stress for your body and you have to fight against fatigue.

Pros: I like the irregular working hours. I do not have to get up at the same time every day. Some flying days are long some are short. The work remains on board and when I have off I have off.

Cons: Due to the irregular working hours I have to take good care of my body. That is why I have a healthy diet and do regular body exercises to stay fit.

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Flying from sunrise to sunset

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Crew life

Becoming a pilot means you become part of a big family. Crews all share the same passion and a safe flight requires the crew to work in a team in a small environment. I think that is why you won't find this energy and enthusiasm in other jobs. Crews take care of each other and support each other. The well being of each crew member ensures the safety of each flight.

Pros: Colleagues can become friends. To share the flight experience and to spend the layover together is double the fun.

Cons: During work, I am not staying at a nice location with my beloved once. It still remains work. Every crew member has their own daily routine so it happens that you only spend time together in the cockpit and the rest of the time everyone does their own thing.

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Upgrade

I recently completed a total of 3000 flight hours. One aspect I really love about my job is that you are constantly learning and improving your skills. Aviation requires you to be up to date about new procedures and regulations. Even after flying an aircraft for thousands of hours you will find out something new about it.

With the first day of your first officer career, you start your training to become a captain one day.

Before I left the business aviation one and a half years ago, my former employer told me that I will become a captain in one year. Switching companies implied that I have to build up my seniority again. I fulfilled the requirement of 1500 flight hours to become a captain, but I still require flight hours within the new company. It also depends on their demand. Earliest time for me to become a captain is in about 1,5 years.

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!

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What would I have done differently?

I would have done everything exactly the same, except one point. Before starting with the flight training I would have studied to get a degree or at least study in parallel to the flight school. I am trying to study business administration alongside with the job and my social media, but currently, there is no time left for that.

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As a pilot, I am experiencing so many of awe-inspiring moments that I am left with no choice but to fly! This dream jobs also has downsides. But which job doesn't? The pros are vastly superior otherwise I would not continue to fly.

Which downside would you like the least?

Please subscribe to my newsletter with your email below and become an Aviator on my YouTube channel as well.

Happy landings!

Your Pilot Patrick

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reason why I became a pilot

My reasons why I became a pilot - still a dream job

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Hello my Aviator, one of my first article on my blog was about the "reason why I fly". I thought it is time to give you a more extensive update. Of course, when I started as flight student I could only imagine how the job of a pilot would be. At the beginning it was my fascination and passion which strove me to become a pilot. Therefore the reasons I am listing here rather tell you why you should become a pilot.

Unfortunately, the economy gives a lot of reasons why you should not become a pilot. But like in every branch there are ups and downs. But it is for sure that air travel will expand. According to Boeing, there is a requirement of 617,000 pilots in the next 20 years. The glory days of flying are not over yet. It just has changed a lot over the decades. In my opinion, it is still the best job in the world and there are many great reasons why you should become a pilot.

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Avporn and cloudporn in London ;)

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The view

You are leaving the hotel and it is grey and rainy weather outside. Don’t worry! An hour later you will be up in the air wearing your sunglasses because the sunlight just became too bright. One of the few jobs where you can wear sunglasses 365 days a year.

"An office with a view beats a desk job any day!"

It is still spectacular to see the world from above even after seven years of flying. The beautiful views from the cockpit during sunset and sunrise are priceless. When flying I sometimes get the impression that I am alone in the world since you are so far away from the happening on the ground. Especially during night flying when everything is black outside except the moon and stars shine really bright. I really like this feeling of de-connection to the rest of the world.

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Office view - the world from 12,000 km

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Faszination

Aviation is fascinating. Already as a small boy, I was attracted by airplanes and I figured that it is probably a lot of fun to fly. Yes of course it is. Getting behind the controls of a huge machine which weighs several tons is an amazing feeling. Especially when you push the thrust levers forward and the moment you take off is a blast. It is always a sense of accomplishment when you land safely after each flight knowing that you were behind the controls of a powerful machine.

"It is contagious!"

Have you listened to a conversion between pilots? They always have to tell a story about places they flew to and other things that happened to them. It is really contagious. When I meet up with my friends from flight school the first couple of hours is only about flying.

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From a private jet to this big bird - Airbus A300

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Flight training

When I finished high school with the age of 19 I did not have the big desire to go to college and continue studying for years. I rather wanted to get into a job as quick as possible and earn money myself to be independent. With the financial back of my parents, I followed my passion of flying. After finishing my civilian year I already started with flight training.

The next two years were a big adventure. Even though the training was not easy and I had to face a lot of challenges they turned out to be the best ones of my entire pilot career. To be with a crew of other flight students who had the same goals was motivating. We always supported in every way. During the training, you knew that the effort will pay off in the end with a seat in the cockpit whereas studying a degree is not necessarily linked to a certain job. If you are interested in my full story of how I became a pilot start with part one of my series.

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Returning from my first solo flight in 2008

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Knowledge

Flying makes you smarter. The knowledge you gain as a pilot you can impose on your everyday life. You will become an expert in planning, staying organized and a good decision maker.

Aviation requires you to be up to date about new procedures and regulations. Even after flying an aircraft for thousands of hours you will find out something new about it. The adrenaline rush at the beginning of your career gets less and so does the nervosity. Actions become automated but flying to new places, flying new approaches and even learning a new type of aircraft makes this job so diverse.

I had to face a new challenge when learning a new aircraft type at the beginning of this year. I was busy several months with training in the simulator. This was a great occasion to improve my skills and knowledge.

 

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Office with a view shot with a GoPro Hero 4

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Great crew

Becoming a pilot means you become part of a big family. As a new pilot, you will be supported by the more experienced colleagues and they will never make you give up.  Every pilot is unique in his own way but all share the same passion. The past seven years I flew with lots of different captains and you will learn from every single one.

"You will have a hard time to fin this energy and enthusiasm in other jobs!"

Rarely you will find a colleague using formal appellation even if he is your superior. In my opinion, this would be hindering a good resource management and would impair communication and safety.  Since this industry is actually quite small everyone is somehow connected with each other. Especially in the business aviation in Germany, I had the impression that everyone knows each other.  

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At the beautiful airport of Oslo

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You are probably wondering why I did not mention the travel aspect for example.  This should not primarily be the reason why you want to become a commercial pilot. With some companies, you only operate from and to your home base and do not get stay overnight.

As a private jet pilot, I did mostly sleep at a different location every day. But this did not mean automatically that I had always had time for sightseeing and to spend a mini vacation.  It was quite the opposite most of the times. In this case, you really don't care about the location you just want to get sleep. Luckily this was not always like that. I had so many nice rotations where I had time to discover new cities, relax at the beach and meet friends. This is a really nice side affect of the job. They are aspects why you shouldn’t become a pilot for. I will address them in a different blog article soon.

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As a pilot, you will experience so many of awe-inspiring moments that you are left with no choice but to fly! 

What makes aviation for you so fascinating? Please comment below!

Always safe travels and happy landings!

Your Pilot Patrick

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pilot life vs private life

Pilot life vs. Private life How does this work together?

In my last aviation related blog post "How I became a pilot part II" I told you about my first flight training phase in beautiful Croatia. Now I want to show you how a pilot life and private life work together. 

Pilot life vs. private life

In the past many of you wondered how I can have a social/private life as pilot when traveling so much and being absent from home a lot. Especially those of you who strive to become a pilot in the future asked me this question and told me their concerns-

Here are examples of two snapchat users.

This solely depends on you dude. But do not worry if you want, you can have both options. ;-) 

It is true that I am absent from home for about half of the month. Usually I am on duty for a  maximum of eight days in a row. The operation in the Business Aviation requires to overnight at those locations wherever the last flight of the day takes you to. Whereas the flights of many low cost airlines end at their home base, which equals basically to a 9 to 5 job. At this moment I would not be a fan of this kind of operation since one reason for me of becoming a pilot is to travel and get to know new places. But I could imagine that an operation, which allows you to sleep at home every night, can be a big advantage once you want to build a family.

As you can see it really depends on the type of operation and airline how many days in a month you actually spend at home. A minimum of 8 days are granted by the aviation authority.

I have arranged myself with the absence from home quite well. I have a social life with friends and private activities like everyone else. Unfortunately I can not attend all events (like birthdays, concerts, parties and family events) but due to good organization skills I get the best of my free time and I never have a big feeling that I miss out on something.

Enjoying my off days! Here on top of Montserrat mountain in Catalonia, Spain

Pros and Cons of my pilot life:

PROS

  • Getting payed well to travel, to see new places and to fly airplanes
  • I leave work behind in the airplane and so I can use my off time at the fullest 
  • More than 3 days off in a row without taking leave (sometimes even 6 days)
  • Per diem are paid for every hour I am being away from home
  • I do my paper work during my work so I can enjoy my off days without distraction
  • Hotel gyms are free of use and I do not have a contract for a gym at home
  • I have more off days than a full time job (about 12 days)
  • Some passengers pay a tip to the crew for the flight and inflight service

CONS

  • Great flexibility expected and the schedule might change at last minute 
  • I only have either Christmas or New years off at home
  • For important events and appointments I have to take leave 
  • I can not attend classes or courses which take place on a regular basis
  • Irregular working hours and sometimes only little sleep during busy months
  • It is hard to keep a special diet while traveling 
  • Especially in the Business Aviation there is a lot of waiting time

Those are my subjective impressions about my life as a First officer and other pilots would definitely mention different aspects.

Ready for boarding the VIP passenger at the pole position in Olbia

As much as I enjoy being at home, after a couple of days at home my wanderlust kicks in and I want to go on a journey again. Striving for a position of a crew member you have to make sure that you have this desire as well. If not you might not be happy in the long term.

Which aspect would you do not like being a pilot? Comment below.

Please have a look on my aviation related Links, which may you find helpful!

Your Pilot Patrick

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