Pilots have lifted the lid on the harrowing activities they perform in the cockpit – including chess and challenging each other to make dangerous landings.
Go to the Q&A site Quora, pilots from around the world shared details about their working lives that nervous aviators probably would rather not know.
The main topic that came up during the answers was how captains fill their time when they get bored on long journeys – and some of the answers will keep you from getting on a plane.
Jan Zumwalt, a former fire chief and airplane pilot from Idaho, USA, said: “Sometimes we got so bored that we bet on things or competitions that we shouldn’t have done.
While you may think it’s all hands on the controls for the entire flight, pilots have revealed the reality of flying – and it’s often accompanied by boredom and crazy games. Picture: stock picture
A well-known example is: “How far or for how long can a pilot descend and / or land without touching the throttles?” The best thing I saw was a guy reaching the inner mark from about 40 miles. ‘
Pilots apply the accelerator during landing to maintain control and speed while the aircraft encounters resistance after extending the flaps. Failure to do so can be fatal.
The pilot then explained two more dangerous ‘games’ for which pilots would challenge each other, including ‘How close to a certain point on the field can the pilot land?’ and braking ‘hard enough to make a certain short turn’.
Zumwalt added that another shocking bet they made was ‘who went to sleep with the new flight attendant first’.
He added, “Ladies, don’t get out of shape, many flight attendants had their own betting pool!”
Jan Zumwalt, an airplane pilot from Idaho, US, says they used to have competitions to see who would sleep with the new flight attendants.
Zumwalt concluded, ‘The list goes on, there’s no shortage of ingenuity when you’re bored! None of this should have happened, but it has happened. ‘
Another pilot – Captain Phil Seely who flies the Boeing 737 NG and 737 Max – claimed that some spent more time looking at the passengers than the clouds.
He warned, ‘International or long-haul travelers: your first class suite (private suite) has a CCTV of all of you from above.
‘If you’re in a closed suite, there’s definitely one for you. The pilots can keep an eye on this for whatever reason, so can the flight attendants, but only if they mistrust something. ‘
You are being watched! Captain Phil Seely claims it is likely that you will be filmed from your first-class seat
William Terry Krueger said he knows someone who takes naps while flying
Kit Baker, a retired captain, said pilots often cover the windshield so they don’t have the sun in their eyes – worryingly, this also means they can’t see out
Another former pilot revealed that they sometimes cover the windshield to avoid dazzling from the sun – because it’s not always necessary to look out.
Kit Baker, a retired Eastern Air Lines and Aloha Airlines captain, said, “ Flying west in the afternoon always requires maps … to cover the windshield to keep the sun out of the pilot’s eyes (with the ebags are nowadays used in newspapers, heard it stinks while baking in the sun).
“That can be a bit nerve-wracking for passengers who are used to driving and the need to monitor traffic, but not at all necessary on an airplane at altitude.”
Former pilot Ron Wagner revealed that he played virtual chess with his co-pilot while flying
He added that the same principle is true at night, with many people asking him how he sees in the dark without landing lights.
Captain Baker wrote: “At night, the landing lights go out once 10,000 feet have passed.
“I once had a passenger ask,” How do you see? ” My answer is “See what?” No lights at night above 10,000 feet is a bit difficult for non-pilots to understand (landing lights are left below 10,000 feet to avoid collisions). ‘
Another unusual and perhaps troubling fact that has emerged in the thread is that pilots don’t often have to keep their hands on the controls – even during turbulence.
Daniel Hickman said he knew of some pilots who had sex, sniffed drugs and drank alcohol while in the cockpit.
Instead, they’ll read the radar and talk to other planes on the radio to see when the turbulence is likely to end, Captain Baker says.
Meanwhile, a pilot on the site admits that his friend was known to snooze while working. William Terry Krueger shared how his friend would use the autopilot function and “take a short nap.”
“When the plane starts to circle around the alarm, banking the plane wakes him up,” he added. “Personally, I wouldn’t recommend it.”
Pilot Daniel Hickman claimed that he “used to” know pilots who had sex – which sometimes “still happens” – sniffed drugs and drank alcohol.
And while it’s not as wild as some stories, Ron Wagner, a former USAF pilot in the presidential wing and former airplane pilot said they played chess while “ cruising at altitude. ”
“I suppose passengers would prefer all of the pilot’s attention at all times when flying the plane,” he wrote.
“But when we were playing chess at cruising altitude, well, I have to admit, we didn’t pay much attention to the jet – because we didn’t have a chessboard!”