Only You Can Make Aviation a Better Career

By Robert Mark on August 22nd, 2007

I was reading a flyer that the editors at Professional Pilot magazine sent out recently asking reader opinions about the qualities needed to succeed as a professional pilot. 

Now the battle begins … stick and rudder skills, versus more practical weather knowledge, versus cutting edge business skills … blah, blah, blah. 

To me, the most necessary skill to succeed as a professional pilot has little to do with the traditional left brain, right brain skills we all think of a pilot critical.

It’s about personality.

When you leave an interview, the one thing every recruiter wonders is whether or not they’d want to fly with that person. Imagine a three-day trip with Tim or Donna. Would it work?

If most of the recruiters say no, you’re toast.

So what’s the key to an engaging personality? It’s something we overlook way to often … a sense of humor.

I don’t necessarily mean a successful pilot needs to be Henny Youngman or Jack Benny, although a talent for good jokes night just be a plus.

As pilots, as managers, as air traffic controllers, we all take ourselves too seriously. Sure flying airplanes is serious business, but I’m convinced the phrase ‘anal’ was coined to explain some pilot’s or controller’s robot-like behavior.

But a sense of humor isn’t simply needed to make the trips a little more fun, although that too wouldn’t hurt.

I think not taking ourselves too seriously means we might be a little more receptive to what other people are saying and doing around us. And that can affect the overall performance of the operation.

Maybe, just maybe we are wrong some times. 

And for those of you who read this and tell me I’m crazy, I’ll bet I can find someone who says they’d love their flying job if they didn’t have to fly with people like you!

Think about it.

Now, on another topic … “Take my wife … please!” 

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