Five types of airline pilots – Which one would you rather fly with?

by United Stripes
30th December 2014
Five types of airline pilots

Although some would have you believe that pilots are all similar (handsome, smart and smooth), there are some subtile differences in personality. Have a look at these five categories of airline pilots, carefully put together by experienced flight attendant Carey Curran (link to her blog below).

Which one do you rather fly with?

The Military Type

This flight deck officer stands up straight even when “at ease,” maintains a stern countenance and is only comfortable when he’s barking out orders.  If he’s not a captain, he will upgrade at the first chance, often eschewing a quality line in the right seat so he can sit in the left.  If his company mandates the wearing of hats, you can bet his is low and tight on his head, per regulations exactly.  He’s almost certainly carrying a firearm, ready at a moment’s notice to defend his aircraft.  You could cut through glass with the crease in his uniform shirt.  Rumor has it there’s a reward offered if you ever catch him smiling.  I flew with one once who complained about having to wear a uniform instead of his old military flight suit.

Standard briefing: A 15-minute detailed monologue encompassing every aspect of standard operating procedures outlined by the company.

Flight bag: Covered with USAF and union stickers.  If he flies a widebody jet, he may also display equipment stickers (B767, B747).

The Slob

This guy’s beer belly is hanging over his baggy uniform pants, whose only saving grace is the tattered belt.   His shirt is wrinkled, half untucked, and graced with a coffee stain reminiscent of Day 2 of his 4-day trip.  He may or may not be wearing white socks under his scuffed black regulation shoes.  He is always eating, usually donuts or snacked nabbed from the First Class snack basket without asking.

Standard briefing:  “Coffee, 10 creams, 15 sugars.”

Flight bag: Falling apart, decorated with Harley Davidson stickers.

The Dude

This mellow guy is one of the favorite few.  This pilot thinks nothing of reporting for duty sans hat, no matter how crazy this makes the Military Type A.  He’s less concerned with following rules than he is about making work fun.  He is vigilant about what matters (safety) and chill regarding everything else.  This type is in the industry for one thing: the time off, which he typically spends chasing the good surf waves around the globe.  One of my “Dude” pilot friends takes off the entire months of February and July to ski, in Tahoe in the winter and Chile in the summer.

Standard briefing: “We’re in this together.  Just let me know what I can do for you.”

Flight bag: Stickers from everywhere cool that he’s been, from the Maldives to Nepal.

The Disappearer

This pilot shuts himself in the cockpit at first opportunity.  Not one for small talk, this guy has no time nor inclination for acknowledging fellow crew.  One could hypothesize he’s been burned by a flight attendant before, but for this theory to prove true, one must make the assumption he was once enough NOT like The Disappearer enough to actually talk to a flight attendant.  You don’t hear a peep from him.  He never asks for anything, ever, even a bathroom break on a transcon.  After the flight, he’s off the airplane and halfway up the jetway before the first passenger has a chance to deplane.

Standard briefing: “Everything standard.”

Flight bag: No one has ever seen his flight bag, except perhaps as a blur up the jetway.

The Nerd

Long before smart phones, there were smart watches.  They were huge and could calculate fractions and show you the weather at your destination.  All the cool pilots had them.  At least, so the Nerd types thought.  The ones who really do use pocket protectors.  They’re the ones on their layovers splitting the crew’s bill down to the penny and then stiffing the server.  Need a quote from section 121.24.2 of the FARS?  This is your go-to guy.  If he’s having an off day and can’t recall the exact verbiage, no worries!  He’s undoubtedly got an app on his phone to pull it up.

Standard briefing:  Nobody’s ever been able to get through the whole thing without glazing over.

Flight bag: Standard issue, unadorned.  Full of protractors and spare duct tape.

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