Pilot Speak


Gate 2 Gate

“Definitely a 7,” I thought as I gripped the seat ahead of me and braced myself. The airplane shuddered at the rapid application of the brakes and I hoped we would come to a halt before the end of the runway.

Do you find yourself doing this? Each time I fly a commercial flight I catch myself in what I call “pilot speak” mode. As the flight pushes back from the gate, I am looking at my watch and thinking of pushback time and gate delay. As the aircraft taxies my mind races with thoughts of taxi times: whether it is nominal or wondering what runway we were taxing too. Seeing the line of aircraft queuing to depart I ponder what the departure sequence is and where in that sequence my flight was and what the queueing delay was?

In the air it is another story. I gaze outside the window trying to identify passing airports. I wonder what the route was? If it is United, I plug in my  headphones and follow the flight enjoying listening to the ATC chatter trying to distinguish the clearances issued to my flight. I marvel at my ability to identify airports and wonder which one we were flying over or watch the aircraft departing under us from unknown airports to unknown destinations.

Arriving close to our destination, I wonder what Standard Terminal Arrival Route(STAR) we are flying? Noting the time we start our descent or ponder if we were holding and if yes at what fix and for how long? Here was the en route delay!

I peer outside my window as if I could see the runway we were heading towards. Most intent on seeing if the aircraft was aligned with the runway and to catch a glimpse of the runway and the final path. I ponder what approach procedure we were flying. Touching down I brace myself and hope we are coming to a stop in time! As we wait for our gate to clear, the thought running in my mind are taxi-in delay and taxi-in time.

It is not just when I am airborne, but I catch myself in “pilot speak” mode when I spy a car driver about to reverse in front of me without using the rear view mirror: “I know he is going to taxi out in front of me is the first thought on my mind before in amusement I correct myself!”

Or it could be in the parking garage and I am thinking: “He is taking my tie down spot” or it could be “He/She is creeping ahead of me” . I guess it happens when you think, fly and live on flying. I love it that I can mix business and pleasure: that flying helps me understand the things in my job better and that my job helps me fly more! I love it and I am not complaining 🙂

This appeared in the Aviatrix Aerogram eZine in fall 2011.

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