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The Noisy, Sweaty Hell of Small Planes

I spent the better part of five years — from, roughly, autumn of 1985 through the late summer 1990 — immersed in the world of general aviation, as it’s also called, slowly building time and collecting the various add-on licenses and ratings I’d need for an airline job. When I think back to those years, my memories aren’t especially fond. Frankly, as I see it, those are 1,500 hours — two full months aloft — that I’m never getting back. There was much about general aviation flying that I did not… ( More...

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Joe Morris 11
I've instructed, dusted crops (that was the term back then), charter, towed banners, dropped skydivers, you name it. Then I flew for the majors for 29 years. Now I'm a Cub pilot. Enjoyed it all, every minute and every airplane. Some people see themselves as just jet pilots, military, whatever. I just wanted to be an aviator.
Loral Thomas 10
I don't agree either. I was building my time in the same way at the same time as the author of the article with one big difference: I was doing it in Florida where the heat and humidity are far worse than what he experienced. Sounds like a whiner to me! Wonder what his take would be on the cost of doing that 1,500 hrs with today's prices. GA (with intrusion by the FAA) has priced itself out of reach of many prospective pilots. He ought to be thankful for what he has instead of complaining about it. Just call it sweat equity.
I'm not sure I completely agree with the author's viewpoint, but it's an opinion and he's entitled to it.

sequence 4
He's definitely entitled to his opinion, but I think its rubbish aviation elitism written for non-pilots who don't understand the truths of the transportation industry.

As a former flight instructor and former turbine pilot (corporate jets not airline) I'm wondering how he can complain he spent 1500 hours he'll never get back in GA but think Boeing 747 KJFK-VHHH is time well spent. Sure the seats are comfy. But 14 hours monitoring the autopilot, maybe re-programming the FMS route, transferring fuel etc. and watching the Arctic pass outside your window (in between sleeping in crew bunks) may pay a *lot* more but isn't what Id call exciting or a bucket list item. He seems to miss the fact that his passengers think of riding in his 747 the same way he thought of riding in a 172. Its just a means to an end.
Malcolm Soare 2
I spent a lifetime flying, from students in a Cessna 150, spraying crops, co-pilot/mechanic fighting forest fires in a B-17, and finally moving into corporate flying, and having the opportunity to finish up my career in corporate jets. It was a 50 year career, and I wouldn't have traded any of it for anything.
Most of us pay dues of some sort while working our way up the ladder of success. Whining about it doesn't help get through it. I would bet you were more skillful at hands on flying of a 182 than you are of a 747...which you might not have to hand fly except on the runway! I'm pretty sure I wouldn't trust you to fly my Pipistrel Sinus without a very thorough check-out first.
jbqwik 2
Some people hate every minute of their job. Smart people work a job they love, warts and all. If you think your job too much like work, as the author seemed to, then you're in the wrong business.
Ron Chambers 2
Typical. Aero trash I call them! The elite. Not all ATP's are snobs. Comes with the territory. So Sad, To Bad...
Tim Swift 2
Enjoyed the honestly and introspective. Human nature I guess in many ways. We all want what we can't have.
Pa Thomas -1
Apparently, some of the commenters here don't recognize Patrick Smith....Hmmmmmm

And, Squawks can now be from two years ago? Who knew?
linbb 3
Is the name supposed to make us grovel or drop to our knees?????? Stupid statements he makes about small cockpits in a 172? Get real they have plenty of room or is he trying to compare it to a 747 cockpit? Too hot? Well I flew many times in a 172 on 100 degree days in WA state and it wasn't that bad. He seems to have a very high opinion of himself from his writing. But us low lifes who think flying is fun in those little bitty airplanes are just trash I guess in his eyes.
Pa Thomas 1
You don't know who he is, do you?
30west 1
I can understand many not knowing him. An International FO for a major airline who followed the route to the majors like many of us. I too started out instructing on the road to a major international airline, with about 1,500 hours as a CFI (Inst & ME) and am saddened to read his article. I have some great memories from those hours, some of the students and the ability to influence the development of eager pilots. I can look at all the different phases of my piloting career and see great times and great people in all of them. Some were better than others. I hope that I am not the exception to the typical career pilot's views, but in the solid majority who thoroughly enjoy all aspects of aviation.

If you don't enjoy it, it's time for a career change.
Pa Thomas 1

Patrick Smith is an active airline pilot, air travel blogger and author. His Ask the Pilot column, from which portions of this website have been adapted, ran regularly in the online magazine from 2002 until 2012.

He has appeared on over 200 radio and television outlets, including PBS, Discovery Channel, CNN, the BBC and National Public Radio. His work is regularly cited in print publications worldwide. He was voted one of the “25 Best Bloggers of 2013” by TIME magazine.
Joe Morris 1
Best Blogger? Ha.


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