A Letter From Your Pilot: the Germanwings Tragedy

A Pilot Explores the Germanwings Tragedy

It’s okay that I am away from my family to take you to yours. It’s my job, my pleasure, my passion, my life as a pilot. I don’t expect you to know that it took me many years and thousands of training hours to be here for you. I have trained in all weather conditions, in many types of aircraft, and in complicated airspace. From a two passenger, single engine airplane to the heavy metal we ride today, I have learned through exposure. The world and Mother Nature can be intense, but I know how to take this aircraft through, or around, everything that life has to offer. I am here for you. I have deepened my knowledge higher and wider than aviation by earning my college degree while also learning how to fly. I have become a pilot and everything about me will keep you safe; it is a pilot’s creed.

Aviation is my life and its requirements are unlike any other career out there. We don’t leave the job at the cockpit door. On our days off, we train, study, get tested, stay fit to pass flight physicals, and deal with base changes, commuting and junior assignments. We look our partners and children in the eye and tell them we love them, and apologize for missing another holiday. We will celebrate when we get back, because we know we will get back. We have become a pilot and everything that entails. Our families have learned to live with a pilot and we thank them for it.

Our commute to work is often as a passenger, so we understand your frustrations and fears. But, when a flight is delayed, we are grateful for the reason. It’s because someone is keeping you safe. Safe from the unruly weather, a mechanical malfunction, or an anomaly that needs attention. Pilots don’t take you to the sky unless we know we’re all safe, and sometimes that takes a little extra time. We know time is precious, we also know life is too.

When we hear that a pilot has violated our creed, we go through and beyond sadness to anger. It’s painful to have a person crumble everything we are and act with malice from a coveted pilot position. It misrepresents everything we are and do for you. We ask that you trust us, because we’ve earned your trust. We guard you with our own dedicated lives.

So please remember, we are pilots, but the person who did this was not a pilot. A true pilot would never intentionally use their position to harm others. With 630 hours, he had not been filtered and exposed to enough experience. He slipped through the cracks of a foreign carrier, which means there are seams in the transition. In the U.S., you will not find anyone with less than 1500 hours in the right seat of a commercial airliner – and the majority have thousands more than that. They will have been exposed to experience and filtered more thoroughly. It doesn’t mean it can’t happen, but it reduces the already miniscule odds. The stats don’t retract the Germanwings tragedy, but as you read these words, there are 5,000 U.S. flights in the air. There are 3 million passenger in the world today that will get to their destinations safely. Every one of those passengers had the benefit and trust of another person’s experience as a pilot.

Tragedy is hard to put into perspective because it has such focus. Don’t blur the rest of the reality. Pilots prove themselves continuously and more testing will prove nothing except that we can take tests. We live, breathe, think, discuss and see the world as a pilot. We have the right to have your trust, but we don’t demand, we ask. We ask by proving to you every day that we live our life to be in this pilot’s seat. The pilots sitting in the front of your airplane will get you there safely. It is their creed, and they live every aspect of their lives for it.

(Featured Image: Sebastien Mortier, CC2)