The A – Z of Airline Pilots

Pilot, Aeronaut, Commander, Wingman, Co-Pilot, Aviator, Captain, God. There are many names for the boys and girls who sit at the pointy end of our aircraft, pressing all those buttons, drinking endless cups of tea and coffee while in charge of our safety, dodging other jets as we hurtle through the air at 500 miles per hour seven miles up.

They’re a well-respected bunch. The face of their airline, looked upon by passengers and fellow crew as a person who should exemplify leadership – with this great role comes great responsibility.

Used for A-Z of Pilots

From the handsome heart breakers to the turn around brew makers; from the eccentric to the narcissistic – our list takes you through them all.

See how many you have flown with?

A is for Annoying. They’re the ones who revel in being awkward and making our lives a misery, coming out to use the toilet in the middle of the meal service or when we’re all sat in the galley having a break. The ones who want to eat on the ground, pre-departure when you’re rushed off your feet or demand a tea or coffee when we haven’t even had one ourselves.

Pre-Flight Briefing: A running commentary of how the day will unfold. It’s their way or no way.

B is for Bad Dresser. All that money to buy the best clothes yet still thinks that stone washed boot cut jeans and their black work shoes are acceptable attire when they’re out of uniform. NO NO! This is why every good pilot needs the fashion prowess of a good woman or gay man to style them correctly. 

Pre-Flight Briefing: The other crew are all too busy thinking what hideous outfit they’ll be wearing on tonights layover to pay any attention.

Used for A-Z of Pilots

C is for Captains. The ones who like to be referred to ONLY as Captain “Yes captain, no captain, three bags full captain” – F*ck off! 

Pre-Flight Briefing: “I’m the Captain. What I say goes. Did I mention I’m the Captain?”

D is for Dude. Not concerned with following the rules, this informal and relaxed pilot is always a pleasure to fly with. Chilled about everything – they do the job simply for the time off and cheap travel. They will take the time to see how the rest of their crew are doing and crew always look forward to seeing them on their roster because you know you’ll have a great day. Once at destination, they’ll book a good restaurant for everyone, before sharing a beer (or two) in a swanky bar – they know all the best places to go out down route. 

Pre-Flight Briefing: No nonsense. Chilled, relaxed and fun. Why can’t all briefings be like this?

E is for Eccentric. We all know at least one of these in our airline. A little bit unconventional and probably single. Life would definitely be much duller without them!

Pre-Flight Briefing: A little wacky but just go with it.

Used for A-Z of Pilots
E is for ‘Eccentric’

F is for First Officer. The boys and girls in the right hand seat, many of whom these days look like they’ve just finished puberty. Those with only two stripes should be seen and not heard. There’s always one or two who are a little too big for their boots when they start flying – until they’re knocked down a peg or two by one of the ‘wagon dragons’ who’ve been flying years. While it’s true that we all had to start somewhere, it’s always wise to get into the brace position when one of these newbies are attempting some of their first landings. Better to be safe than sorry. 

Pre-Flight Briefing: Captain running late? They get very excited if they actually get to do a pre-flight briefing. Bless.

G is for Gregarious. The ones who relish being the centre of attention, love the sound of their own voices and think the whole world revolves around them.

Pre-Flight Briefing: Mainly involves talking about themselves with the odd interjection of info about the flight.

H is for Hero. The likes of Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger and First Officer Jeff Skiles, who saved the lives of 150 passengers and three cabin crew members in ‘The Miracle On The Hudson’. Or the flight crew of ‘United Airlines Flight 232’ – Captain Al Haynes, first officer William Records, flight engineer Dudley Dvorak and off duty training captain Denny Fitch. But let’s not forget the incredible cabin crew on these flights. Their amazing stories of heroism and bravery in the line of duty and countless others, can be found in our Angels of the Sky section.

Flight Crew of United 232 From left : Capt. Alfred Haynes, First Officer William Records, Second Officer/Flight Engineer Dudley Dvorak and Capt. Dennis Fitch.

I is for Intelligent. Well I guess you’ve got to be pretty clever to fly a plane – although I know it doesn’t always seem that way. They’re hard-working and know the job inside out – you always feel safe with the intelligent ones. You may even be able to have an actual grown up conversation with them. 

Pre-Flight Briefing: You’re blinded (or bored) by their technical terms, big words and aviation jargon.

J is for Joker. We all love a good laugh and everyone loves flying with the funny man. However, when the funny man tells the same jokes over and over again, especially if you’re operating multiple sectors it gets pretty boring, pretty quickly. For some examples of how funny our flight deck colleagues can be, check out our hilarious Public Announcements (PA’s) 

Pre-Flight Briefing: Full of bad jokes and innuendos you’ve heard a hundred times before.

K is for ‘Know It All’. Nothing worse than a know it all. Not only do these idiots think they know how to fly a plane, they also believe they can do our job in the cabin better than us. Get back in your box sunshine. 

Pre-Flight Briefing: “Make sure you check all boarding cards. Arm and cross check your doors properly. Don’t take the trolley out in turbulence. Make sure you guard the flight deck door” – yea thanks for those invaluable words of advice, what would we do without you.

L is for my Ladies. Female pilots. Ladies like Emily Howell Warner America’s first female Captain. These days there are more and more girls sat up in the flight deck. In 2016 easyJet launched the ‘easyJet Amy Johnson Flying Initiative’ to help encourage more women to train for a career as a commercial airline pilot. Industry-wide the proportion of female pilots has remained at around 5 per cent of all flight crew for decades. The launch of the initiative, named after the UK’s most well-known and inspirational female pilot, is one of the first parts of a long-term strategy to increase female pilots with six female, new entrant flight crew having their training loan of around £100,000 underwritten by easyJet. However, in 2017 easyJet was at the centre of gender controversy after the airline admitted that it awards its average UK-based female employee a salary that is more than 50 per cent lower than what it pays its average UK-based male employee, largely because so few pilots are women.

Pre-Flight Briefing: No bravado. No discussing the latest Galley FM going-ons. Believe me the boys are bigger bitches than the girls.

Kate McWilliams was 26 when she became the youngest ever commercial female airline captain.

M is for Married. The heart breakers, the ones who will promise you the world on a night-stop, then when you get home – you find out they’ve got a wife and 2.4 children waiting for them in arrivals. They are the subject of more Galley FM gossip than anyone else. The serial shagger. Don’t fall for their charms. Don’t forget girls and boys – rings come off! 

Pre-Flight Briefing: Eyeing up the new crew members.

N is for the Nigels. Yes at British Airways the boys at the pointy end are affectionately referred to as ‘Nigels’. Quite where this term comes from is subject to much speculation although most agree that it refers to the many ex-Royal Air Force boys who predominantly made up the pilot population at Britains flag carrier back in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

Pre-Flight Briefing: Suave and Debonair, or so they think, they’ll do their very best to charm the knickers off even the iciest of Trolley Dollies.

O is for Old School. Learnt how to fly with the Wright Brothers. Always by the book and can make crews lives quite difficult at times as they are so stuffy and stuck in their ways. Always precise in their actions, call-outs and procedures. Hate any changes to operating procedures and hate any new crew joining their airline. Often found sipping an expensive malt whisky or cognac at the hotel bar.

Pre-Flight Briefing: Very formal. Full of technical terms. They know their aircraft like the back of their hand.

P is for P.I.L.F. or Pilot I’d Like To F*ck’. Believe it or not there are some VERY good-looking flight deck out there. Don’t believe me? Just head over to instagram and have a look at Marco or Pumping Pilot or Skylife737 

Pre-Flight Briefing: *Drool…. sorry I wasn’t paying attention.

Definite PILF!

Q is for the Quiet Ones. Well as the saying goes it’s always the quiet ones. While it may take them some time to come out of their shell, when they do they’re great fun. Plus for us cabin crew they’re usually easy to boss around and have under our thumb. 

Pre-Flight Briefing: They stand there mute while we run rings round them.

R is for Retired. “For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return” – Leonardo Da Vinci. For our retired pilots this is so true. Always looking skywards, they never really give up the job. When travelling as a passenger they will give their travelling companions a running commentary throughout the flight. 

Pre-Flight Briefing: Given to their fellow passengers at the departure gate.

S is for Slob. Ill fitting and dirty uniform that looks like its never seen an iron before. Scuffed shoes. Overgrown beard and hair. Dirty finger nails and used meal trays and cups strewn around his flight deck seat.

Pre-Flight Briefing: Lazy and half assed attempt at a briefing that no one pays any attention too as we’re too busy trying to ignore the smell.

T is for the Tight Arse. We all know that most pilots aren’t short of a few quid. But the reason many of them are so filthy rich is because they’re so bloody tight. No way they’re buying you a Costa while you wait for your delayed flight. On a layover, they’ll ensure that the bill is split right down the middle to the exact penny. 

Pre-Flight Briefing: “I’ll see you down at the bar after the flight” “Great, what are you drinking?” “No thanks I’ll buy my own”

U is for Useful. The ones who aren’t afraid to get stuck in. The kind ones that take an interest in us. Those who make their crew a tea or coffee when we’re on the ground or while they’re taking an inflight loo break. They help with turnarounds and carry our bags up the aircraft stairs. We like these flight crew members. 

Pre-Flight Briefing: “Is there anything we can do for you?”

V is for Victim. The ones who think the whole world is against them. The airline they work for. The crew they fly with. The passengers. The ground staff. Air Traffic Control. Everyone. Always complaining about work conditions and not earning enough, complaining about management. They think that being a pilot is the worst job ever! 

Pre-Flight Briefing: Too busy moaning about the roster changes they have just received – again, to actually give you any information about the flight.

W is for Wanker. We all know the ‘wanker’ captain. They have a bad reputation throughout the base and if they’re really bad they’re know around the airline. You dread their name coming up on your roster. Always contradicts you and the other crew members. Have no time for their fellow crew. 

Pre-Flight Briefing: Barking their orders at the first officer and cabin crew.

X is for (e)X Air Force. Complete with handle bar moustache. Impeccably dressed, you could cut through glass with the crease in their shirt. Pilot bag will be covered in RAF stickers and the types of aircraft they’ve flown on. 

Pre-Flight Briefing: A 15-minute detailed monologue encompassing every aspect of standard operating procedures outlined by the company.

Y is for YAAAAWWWWWN! Boring. The ones who only know how to talk shop. Bang on about the latest aircraft technology and the latest gadgets they have bought. Who cares? Try getting stuck with him on a four-day trip. 

Pre-Flight Briefing: Nobody’s ever been able to get through the whole thing without glazing over.

Z is for Zombie. They are that stressed with their demanding wives who have hold of their already maxed credit cards, demanding children in expensive private school, bills to pay and endless stresses of life. They appear lifeless, lack judgement and are more like a corpse than a captain. 

Pre-Flight Briefing: Probably best if we just take over.

© by Dan Air.

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