"What?" … I said, "Most Old Pilots’ Hearing is Shot"

By Robert Mark on January 24th, 2008

People who fly airplanes for a living often share some of the same ailments in their older years found among other workers who also operate obnoxious moving machinery … jack hammers, high-speed riveting machines, drag racers.

My wife and daughter are constantly amazed – and embarrassed – at how I manage to survive in the world with such awful hearing, a remnant of too many years of flying small airplanes with no earplugs or headsets. I pass the FAA physical each year, but that only measures the strength of the audio signals I can hear. There is no place in the exam to figure out how well I decipher conversation across a busy room. Take heed my younger friends … too many years of no hearing protection has left me often baffled by whether what I’m hearing is romantic discourse from my bride in a trendy restaurant or the appeals of my mate in search of a new garbage disposal.

With that in mind, I offer you this story about a three-person flight crew from an old Boeing 727. 727-09All of these pilots probably climbed the flying career ladder the same way I did in small airplanes and are now paying the price for hearing well, but often understanding little.

I’d like to thank my friend Pete at FedEx for reminding me of how this little tale goes. I think he told me once but either I forgot or never heard it right the first time.

Disclaimer … Humorous joke follows. Some younger or more sensitive readers may not get it.

During a layover in Wichita, the crew is waiting for the van to take them to the hotel. In true Kansas style, the wind is howling up a storm at the airport.

First Pilot: “Boy. It sure is windy out here.”

Second pilot: “It’s not Wednesday, it’s Thursday.”

Captain sums it all up: “Yeah, I’m thirsty too. Let’s go have something to drink.”


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2 Responses to “"What?" … I said, "Most Old Pilots’ Hearing is Shot"”

  1. Bill P. Says:

    Boy, oh Boy, can I relate to that!

    …and hearing aids, they’re for “old people,” we don’t really want to go there, do we?

  2. Doug Toppin Says:

    i’ve been reading jetwhine for a while (tks for doing it). i’m a 50-year old student pilot (out of KJYO) and i’ve been noticing that my night vision seems to have declined in the last couple of years moreso than my hearing. i’ve heard one or two “mature” (ie around 50-60) pilots say that they go on O2 for night flights now for that reason. any thoughts on that?


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