Why Are Commercial Airline Pilots Respected? (4 Backslapping Facts)

Captain and First Officer smling into the camera in the cockpit looking back!
Airline Captain and First Officer On Deck!

Airplanes and the daring, courageous men who flew them since I was a little boy have fascinated me. My Uncle came and stayed in my parent’s home for a visit who was a pilot in The Korean War. That clinched my admiration instantly for pilots. I had my answer, Why Are Commercial Airline Pilots Respected? Let’s explore some reasons.

Why Are Commercial Airline Pilots Respected?

We revere pilots because the public entrusts them with their lives when they fly. They are the daring men in their flying machines and they travel the world with a motivation for a high-paying job. The pilot appears confident and capable while the pilot’s uniform conveys authority.

1. Pilots As Professionals.

As a Commercial Pilot, I always took my responsibility seriously. Not that I was reckless as a Student or Private Pilot, but when hired by a company to represent their brand and be responsible for their property, professionalism is a must.

After a hard lesson as a young low-time pilot, I learned that passengers can be easily frightened and that knowledge stopped any “cowboy flying” with any of my passengers. I always promoted safe flying protocol to all pilots that I instructed or knew in any capacity as pilots after my mistake.

People do look up to men and women who fly. Our society is still fascinated by the strange disappearance of the late Amelia Earhart. Aviation mysteries like MH 370 that disappeared in the ocean always seem to fascinate us despite the horror involved.

They are fascinated by the insane advancement in aviation while still adoring the glamour of early airline flying. Pilots are placed on a pedestal.

2. Aviation Is A Respectable Career.

Many careers are respectable, so that should not be the major factor in choosing flying. I consider even some lawyers deserve respect! Just joking, of course. Choosing any career is a heavy step. Only one is a lofty one, in my opinion.

Hollywood has painted pilots as heroes throughout the decades and the latest “Top Gun” movie being massively successful proves the public fascination with pilots and the airplanes they fly. The airplane and pilot movies always draw lots of attention.

Success in aviation is not all about what pilots get paid because that is a foolish thought. Being paid well is a nice perk and pilots can earn large salaries. They also do a great service while helping many people get to their destinations safely. The high pay ie well deserved.

I was never close to earning large money, but it kept me happy enough not to run off for a new career. I had a nice lifestyle. And I loved it!

3. Intensive Training.

Pilot training is arduous and expensive and aviation requires continuous training and testing throughout the career of a pilot. I would venture that this is a known fact among the flying public.

The education pilots must gain to become airline pilots’ transmits to the trust of passengers.

The people who are employed in aviation flight crews, maintenance personnel, and ground crews are the most trusted people I have had the honor of working with.

College degrees being required to fly for the airlines are a thing of the past, however, the training required is equivalent to a college degree.

People have a high regard for those with expertise.

3. Pilot Health And Mental Health.

Pilots’ physical health status is required to be tested every 6 months for a First-Class Medical Certificate to fly as an Airline/Corporate Captain. Some companies require the same for any employed pilot flying FAR Part 91, Part 135, and Part 121. Read the FAA Pilot Requirements here.

I do highly recommend that all pilots become very familiar with the current FAR/AIM, (Federal Aviation Regulations and Airmans Information Manual),

Drug and alcohol testing is mandatory for all flight operations personnel.

These requirements are more stringent than any other profession. I think the requirements for drug and alcohol testing should be required for all doctors, lawyers, and judges.

Mental health evaluations are not presently required by the Federal Aviation Administration, but I suspect this may become mandatory as well at some point.

4. Confidence.

Pilots know their business and they do portray themselves as completely capable of undertaking the task at hand. So being confident comes with the job.

If you are not capable or confident about the job you have you should not be in that job. But airlines do make sure pilots are confident and capable before they are signed off to fly.

There can never be any doubt of the safe outcome of any flight and the pilot is at the front line. Pilots must evaluate themselves first before any flight and make sure they are capable of completing each flight safely.

I had to fly in all weather conditions and my judgment had to be spot on and able to legally complete the flight. For example, the weather needed to be scrutinized and evaluated and the destination airport needed to be at or above weather minimums for the approach. You could not fly in any severe icing conditions.

There were many flights that were flown that the ground was never visible until you were at minimums (1/2 mile visibility and a 200-foot cloud ceiling.) It was a good idea to know you could do the job.

Final Thoughts.

The early days of airline travel were very much a luxury, and the pilots were nearly all former military pilots. The public viewed these people with a bit of awe and a lot of admiration. The idea of pilot respect has changed through the past 70 years of aviation in America and Worldwide.

I believe post-war WWII America saw pilots in a bigger-than-life light since they were mostly American pilots who were from military backgrounds flying for the airlines. They were perceived as the best the world had to offer. The same thing occurred following WWI.

Some of this adulation has waned over the years but it set the stage for pilot respect.

People do blindly trust the pilots of today’s modern airliners and these people do deserve the respect of the flying public.

Related: How Dangerous Is Flying In Ice? (Some Freezing Thoughts)

Please do leave comments, questions, or criticism and I will happily respond.

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