Sitting on the left seat and flying through the varied terrain with different yet exceptional views made me realize that it's the best job I could have ever done. Flying through rain, snow, sand and fog in different seasons, facing the ups and downs due turbulence is something which a pilot is trained for and gaining experience from the left seat changed my perspective as a pilot. Being the whole and sole authority on the aircraft to make decisions made me realise how important it is for a captain to stay calm and clear headed. Making firm decisions is the essence of being a pilot, as sometimes someone's life is at stake due to medical reasons or due to some technical issue with the aircraft. Handling disgruntled passengers at the time of a diversion or on delayed flights comes with experience and your communication skills become handy in such situations.
It is exciting everyday, whether you’re flying to a new airport or the same airport. You can never take away the child inside of any pilot, the adrenaline rush you get everytime you take off and land the airplane. In my experience, all pilots face ups and downs throughout their careers. Aviation is always about learning new things whether it's from an experienced pilot or even a new trainee pilot. You never know who will come and teach you something new. There are updates you get from the manufacturer to keep you up-to-date about the new softwares or new procedures.
Flying for me has always been exciting. It's my passion. There are many experiences that I remember in my life which have left a mark on me but the one which will always be close to my heart was to be chosen in the company to go and get a new B737 Max 8 aircraft from the Boeing factory. It is every pilot’s dream to go get a new aircraft from the factory and I got to live it. Inside the Boeing factory, I saw how the aircraft is made from scratch. I saw the assembly line of Boeing 777X, the new Boeing aircraft with foldable wings. In the Boeing factory, when they know you have come to pick up an aircraft, they give a special tour of the factory where they take you on the floor with an engineer who explains the process of making the panels, fuselage, wings etc and I got to experience it all.
On the day of picking up the aircraft, they hosted a dinner party with all the pilots, engineers and Boeing head of sales with a lavish spread. They have a lounge where you can relax till the time all the formalities and paperwork are completed. Later you proceed to their dispatch where they explain the expected flight plan, the weather en route and the most exciting procedures to fly over the north pole. It is a dream come true to fly over the north pole, flying over Greenland and Iceland, the snow covered mountains and land all around. Luckily, we had an evening departure and it was the month of December. We were so lucky to get a sight of northern lights in the sky.
Looking at those green lights like the waves of water continuously moving is a sight I will never forget in my life. Flying a new aircraft freshly minted from the factory is like the feel and smell of a new car. I was excited to take off from Seattle and fly over the north pole, this has and will always be an experience close to my heart.
With all the perks of getting to see new countries and cities comes a few drawbacks too. Sometimes we fly during the festive season making sure the passengers get home and packages sent for the loved ones reach them on time. Being away from the family especially during Christmas and other holidays isn’t a great feeling. But sometimes you have to give preference to your passion and luckily my family understands the way aviation the industry works. After all this, when you see a smile on the passengers faces and hear them say a simple thank you while deboarding makes your day.
Blue skies & happy landings!