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Saturday, February 13, 2010


Last week I sat next to a pilot and I kept asking him questions, trying to figure out what scares these guys since I used to be afraid to fly. I asked him: "Does flying from the mainland to Hawaii scare you [it's the longest open-water route in the world since there are no islands in between]?" Nope. "How about flying to South America since the South American air traffic controllers are supposedly not that good." Nope. "How about fools like the Christmas Day bomber?" Negative. "How about the fact that they don't do a great job screening cargo?" Not really. "How about severe turbulence?" Nope. "How about flying RJs [regional jets] run by sister airlines?" Ding Ding Ding!

My seatmate said he never ever puts his family on regional jets since most of the pilots are younger than his kids and inexperienced. He went on to tell me that he rarely flies them himself except when he has to and only if the weather is clear in both the departure and arrival cities. He believes RJs are hurting his airline (Delta) since consumers do everything they can to avoid flying them (like me). In fact, the main reason I was flying to New York instead of Providence (where I needed to be) was so I could avoid riding the RJ (they are uncomfortable, too). FYI: The other thing that scares him is ice (on the wings).


A few days later I was booked on a PVD (Providence) flight to Los Angeles via Atlanta and the first leg of the trip was on a 50-seater regional jet. Luckily, my plans changed and I booked a ticket on US Airways to Palm Beach (Boeing 737). However, I walked by the Atlanta gate to see if I could get a credit and standing next to the jet bridge door was the pilot. Even with his four stripes on he looked like he was just out of high school – I couldn’t believe how young he was and I sure was relieved I wasn’t getting on his plane.


Fast forward a few days and I’m back in Los Angeles sitting in my barber shop checking out one of their “Flying Magazine’s” while I wait to get my haircut. Flipping through the pages I came across this advertising that almost made my eyes pop out: “Become a pilot for a regional airline in 90 days”. As you can see from the picture above the graduate is a 23 year old Continental Connection pilot. I realize one initially has to be a First Officer first but still – doesn’t 23 years old seem a bit young to get enough flight hours under their belt? Now I know why that pilot I sat next to won’t put his family on these regional airlines.

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