Pilots don’t want you to know …

What goes on behind that triple latched and deadlocked door at the front of the plane? Obviously being responsible for the safety of thousands of passengers is no easy job. It would be stressful to say the least. But with automation taking over much of a pilot’s job, what else goes on in the cockpit?

Kit Baker, a retired captain with Eastern Air Lines and Aloha Airlines, comes clean on what pilots do in the cockpit that they don’t want passengers to know.

Flying blind
What do pilots do they don’t want passengers to know about? Three things come to mind. First, flying west in the afternoon always requires maps … to cover the windshield to keep the sun out of the pilot’s eyes. That could be a little unnerving to passengers used to driving and the need to keep an eye on traffic but in an airplane – completely unnecessary at altitude.

Hands off the wheel
Second, in turbulence, there is no flurry of hands flying around the ‘controls’ to keep something horrible from happening. Mostly during turbulence, someone is looking at the radar and the other pilot will be talking to other airplanes on the radio to see when the annoyance, which is all that turbulence is, will end.

Turn out the lights
Thirdly, at night, the landing lights are turned off as soon as 10,000 feet is passed. I once had a passenger ask: “How do you see?”

My answer is: “See what?”

No lights at night above 10,000 feet is a little difficult for non-aviators to understand. Landing lights are only left on below 10,000 feet for collision avoidance.

Does any of this surprise you? If you could ask a pilot a question, what would it be?

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