What It’s Really Like to Be a Commercial Pilot

Written for FLARE‘s 9-5 series.

What’s your favourite destination? Vancouver, because flying over Canada lets you see how beautiful this country is. The view from the cockpit is breathtaking and words can’t describe some of the things you see, especially when the sun is coming up or you see weather at a distance. Having a layover in Vancouver is also great because it’s easier to deal with the time zone change—as opposed to travelling east when you’re losing sleep.

How do you get in the zone before a big flight? I always want to ensure I show up to work without a lot of stuff on my mind. Our policy is to advise pilots not to come to work if they’re dealing with a lot of stress at home, which can be a challenge. You really have to self assess and make sure your mind is clear and level-headed. It’s a bit tough when you have a family, like I do, but you just learn to separate your home from work. A lot of it starts with getting prepared the night before. For me, it helps to have everything I’ll need for the next day laid out: uniform, a flight bag packed with a charged iPad (loaded with current charts and bulletins), licenses, my passport, my Transport Canada restricted area pass, and of course food!  Air Canada no longer provides catered crew meals on domestic or trans border flights. I also pack a suitcase even when I’m not scheduled to layover—last minute schedule changes are just a part of the business. Having all of this ready means I’m not starting my day rushed.

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