Flight plan

My flight plan....

This blog is to inspire and motivate those pining for the skies. I will also virtually open the flight deck door and allow a peak behind the scenes.

If for any reason you have an issue found within, send an email and I will ratify it!

Again, this blog is for aviation enthusiasts so welcome aboard....

And please help make this blog interactive by sending in comments. Don't be shy! :)))))

Not my license plate but "follower" Mark from my hometown captured this shot.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The most stressful job?

This great shot is from "Erik" in Frankfurt this morning. Reminds me when flying for eight hours from Toronto to Frankfurt during the wee hours of the night and getting late landing clearance 300 to 400 feet "off the deck." You are spring loaded to execute a "go-around" and all it takes is one extraneous transmission to miss your landing clearance. Stress...what stress? :)))

So mine is the most stressful job???

The last day or so the media has been airing segments on the most stressful jobs. Looks like my profession is the most stressful white-collar job out there!

Here’s the list:

1. Commercial Airline pilot 

2. Public relations officer
3. Corporate executive 

4. Photojournalist
5. Newscaster
6. Advertising account executive 

7. Architect 

8. Stockbroker
9. Emergency medical technician (EMT) 

10. Real estate agent

But why is being an airline pilot so nerve wracking...let alone being captain?

Most of the time flying an airplane is “moments of sheer terror coupled with hours of boredom.” (I know you have heard this overused cliché hundreds of times) but why then is being airline pilot so stressful?


When you think one of the toughest things about my job is trying to keep it with recurrent training every 6 to 8 months, medicals, annual check rides, "transport" showing up on a whim…it can up the stress level a few notches.

Now throw in the “other” parameters…

Wage freezes, deep salary cuts, pensions potentially vaporizing, downturns, concessions, strikes, mergers, contract renewal, certain groups wanting to make political statements, etc…can add to the grey hair.

Now think about schedules, being away from home, restless sleeps, jet lag, crew meals, eating on the road, dehydration, cosmic radiation (it’s not that bad…an article to come) lack of exercise can all cause wear and tear on the mind and body.
(Luckily, I’m a regular at the gym which helps a little keeping things in check)

Then there’s situations at home: not getting holidays off, missing your kid's birthdays, and being away from home for long periods allowing things to fester imposing marital and family stress.

(On that note, Christer looks like I put too much weight on Halifax layovers and not enough for May 15th. I will be missing your concert!. I arrive from Denver, Colorado late that night) :((((

Then throw in weather…thunderstorms, slippery runways, delays due to deicing, strong winds, poor visibility, snowstorms all of which can cause premature balding…

(Notice air traffic controllers did not make the cut? I guess their offices don’t nudge thunderstorms or don’t slide down the runway at 150 knots? Having said that, you guys do a fantastic job and I fly in the safest airspace in the world because of you…thanks!!!)

Then there are ground holds, holding patterns, maintenance issues and flying from A to B with just “adequate” fuel.

Now throw in the media having their finger on the pulse looking for any “hiccup,” a fully loaded plane of passengers armed with cell phones and computers ready to hit “send” can also add a little paranoia.

Then there is security cameras, cockpit voice recorders, flight data recorders, internal departments scrutinizing flight profiles, ground based amateurs armed with scanners recording everything you say. Plus maintenance monitoring us ensuring we treated those multi million dollar engines with TLC. All of which causes one to ponder whether this job is worth it and should we pursue the "least" stressful white collar career -audiologist?

So is it worth pursuing the most stressful profession out there? You bet your sweet “you know what” it is!!!!

To achieve the goals you have set out for yourself.... that is success. So what if being an airline pilot is stressful? I know I wouldn’t have it any other way. To go through life without any regrets is priceless, but who does that? As one ex-ornery boss of mine once said, if you are not pushing the airplane to “barber pull” (over speeding the airplane) you are not trying hard enough. 

I know one thing…I love my job! 


Bas said...

Well put!

A lot of people don't get any further than 'high salary' + 'far away from home' when they think of pilots.

It's so much more, yet still there are thousands of people wanting to be an airline pilot.
Is it all worth it, I bet! You just have to be the person who can cope with these things :)

Wonderful post :)

From the Flight Deck said...

Bas. Well said, "you just have to be the person who can cope with these things."

Captain Doug

Anonymous said...

Great post!

I am trying to get into this field termed "the most stressful job" - guess I am nuts.

On the other hand, this job experiences many things that you cannot see in many other jobs.

Nevertheless, my respect to all the commercial pilots out there, including you Capt. D - thanks for taking us safely to our destination every time.

Wannabe Mike ~

From the Flight Deck said...

Wannabe Mike. :)

You pegged it! It's one of the most dynamic jobs out there.

It's why I love it!

Captain D

Foggy said...

Interesting post there Doug. Where did you get that 1-10 list from? I can only identify 2/3 real jobs on the list, the others - my opinion - are very much, and generally speaking, over-paid non-jobs!! Dons body armor and runs for cover....

Then there is another take - add "unemployed" in front of those three real jobs and they become, possibly, instantly more stressful by a factor of.... pick an number.

But I guess being a part-time Real estate agent in downtown Tripoli could possibly be considered stressful at this time, especially if your other part-time job is on Colonel G's Public relations staff ;)

"Foggy", in from the cold......... unless you'd rather I just go right through the hallway and out the back door...

Anonymous said...

LOL!!!! :)))

Oh Foggy!
Nice to hear from you!

Ha ha ha!

Christer said...

Interesting! Listening to Channel 9 on UA flights every now and then I gather that you need to be pretty on the ball, especially in very busy airports- what always amazes me is the precision carried out in extremely low visibility. You hear ATC communicating rapid-fire commands on approach, see nothing, then before you know it, touch down on the ground right where you're supposed to be. Pretty cool if you ask me, and stressful up front I'm sure!

No worries about the 15th Doug, I understand how that goes, and there'll definitely be another one down the line somewhere:)

From the Flight Deck said...

Foggy. Here's one of the many recent sites:


And I queried the same thing!!!!

Your points are valid!!!

I see you have a new "ident." No coffee required. :)))))

From the Flight Deck said...


I feel bad about missing the concert. It didn't have to be if I paid more attention to my bid. That'll teach me!

Yes, the chatter on the radios is constant at the busy airports. You don't stutter, be curt, comply, obey, take orders, agree, etc.

(Sounds like home) LOL

Many people are amazed how we land in fog. But you as a passenger are looking out of the airplane sideways without any extremely bright lights as guidance.

I'll take a rain cheque!


jack said...
This post has been removed by the author.
Andrew said...

Well at least Airline pilot also happens to win the award for "Best Office View" in the world...should ease the pain a bit.


Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight Doug....

I will be putting myself in debt for the most stressful job that was surveyed?

Whatever happened to US Naval Aviators or ATC. US Naval Aviators have to plant a plane on a runway that is too short to be called one when it bobs up and down and when it offers zero depth perception at night. And ATC... one dot on a radar screen goes missing and its curtains.

Well, the only thing I can say is that I have a dream and it had to be piloting.

Well full steam ahead Captain!


CYYZ Guy Jeff said...

Forgot to put my name in the last post Doug!

Thanks for posting the picture I showed you as well of the two UAs competing for attention.


welcome back Foggy.....if I'm not mistaken, I'm certain I know who you are. :)


YMM to YYZ to YSJ Departure 13:05 hrs!!

MCO on Sunday!!!!

Can't wait....you going that way Captain??

Nice post by the way.:)

CAT III Approach

Foggy said...
This post has been removed by the author.
Foggy said...

Cat III, I could not possibly comment... though I would appreciate you telling who you think I am, because I'm not exactly sure who I am.... or was..... or...

And you're going to MCO on Sunday - lucky, lucky, lucky!

Christer said...

Don't worry about it Doug! Would have been nice to have you join us, and if something changes and you find yourself at home, you're still welcome:) Don't let it add more stress to the career though:)

I'm off to O'Hare this early morning. Wish I were on UA where I could hear the chatter in the flight deck. With all the storms here it would certainly be interesting today!

Take care and safe travels to you.


Foggy, if you could not then I certainly won't :)

Yes I am very lucky...my wife and kids can't wait, and neither can I!

Hopefully the trip through YYZ is a smooth one today considering.

Take care,

CAT III Approach

whywhyzed said...

On the "high salary" side of things, the REALLY sad thing is, until you make it to the majors, the wages are pathetic -- and the stress is probably even higher on the little planes, multiple legs day after day, etc.
F/O wages on the US regional airlines are around the poverty line -- just go and read the Colgan story. :-( You wanna talk about stress.....

From the Flight Deck said...

Andrew. Re: "the view." You nailed it! The pros certainly outweigh the cons!

From the Flight Deck said...


It's one of those huge paradoxes in life! And what is more bizarre most "pilot wanna bes" would run down the street naked to get hired with the "majors." I would have done that years ago, but not anymore, it wouldn't be a pretty sight. LOL

I like it..."full steam ahead!"

From the Flight Deck said...

CAT III Approach. Still on days off and vacation. I'm enjoying the AWFUL weather. NOT!

Taught an ETOPS (Extended Twin Range Operations) class today at the Brampton Flight Centre.

So you are heading to Orlando?

Good for you!

From the Flight Deck said...


Off to Chicago? Let's hope the "windy city" does not live up to its name. Here in YYZ the winds got up to gusts over 50 knots! Knocked over an urn on my stone work I did last year and crack the stone.
It's the kind of day I'm having.

Could be worse, I could be shooting an approach into YYZ this afternoon. What was that about stress? LOL

I've been singing, "always look on the bright side of life" and it's driving the "boss" nuts.
Either because I can't sing or this weather is stalling the "to-do" list.



From the Flight Deck said...


I concur. The Colgan case and with Captain Sully opening up a can of worms, brought to the forefront
what being a pilot can be like. It really is not for the faint oh heart.

Yes, trying to make ends meet after walking away from flight school with potentially $60,000 to $100,000 in debt is not pretty.

Yes, talk about stress....

Cedarglen said...

Another great post, Doug. As I've noted before, I'd ride your airplane any day. Why? Because you LOVE that job so much, you've found the means to leave those stress items *outside* the flight deck door. That, good sir, is the mark of a genuine professional. On a lighter note, I'm still LMAO about "Audiologist" as the least stressed professional/white collar job. My audiologist is going to love reading this. Humph! I'd throw in my profession as an assistant heart cutter (now retired) but we *never* did more than one at a time. You manage ~130-250 every time. My salute, Sir! -Craig

JetAviator7 said...

I decided NOT to pursue a career in 1965 when United offered me a job. Most of my friends did join United.

Over the years they endured layoffs 3 times, and one gave up and became a teacher. I spent 7 years in corporate flying ( talk about long strange hours), then started and ran my aviation insurance business for 30 years.

Nonetheless, sometimes I wonder....

My hat is off to you!

ps: Got your book today

JetAviator7 (John?

From the Flight Deck said...

Cedarglen (Craig)

Yes, I try to leave my (baggage - figuratively) at the flight deck door. Sometimes that's a challenge. I've flown with many that can't.

Thanks for your perspective on things.

From the Flight Deck said...


Life is nothing but decesions. It's full of good luck, bad luck, no luck, twists, dead ends, forks in the roads, fate, karma, timing....well you get the picture.

But only time tallies the score.

I remember when starting off, we would joke one day we would sit in our retirement chairs and reminisce...where did so and so go....who did they fly for?

Some of my friends have gone to Emirates, Westjet, corporate, stayed with Jazz, quit all together. Some are senior than me and others very junior here at AC.

Who wins?

Again, only time tallies the score!

Thanks for your slant on things and thanks for taking a look at my book.

Captain Doug Morris

getjets said...

ok, Captain Doug, or whomever if so interested..........I have a question....and I may not have a clue...but let me run this by ya'll

your an Air Canada pilot of an A-320...and your gonna take off from CYHZ (Halifax, int'l airport) N.S....

could one scenerio for taking off be............

leave your gate(of course where your gate is may determine path to runway).....you then taxi to....a place on the taxi way where you can veer left or right....

you veer to the left.....

then make a right hand turn onto Runway 14 and use Runway 14 for a taxi way to Runway 23
make a right hand turn onto Runway 23....and take off into the wild (not so blue, today) yonder??????????

I think I covered all the details....just curious...

I am crazy about looking at airports(satellite vantage)and in this case both satellite and airport web cam....and try to figure out....whatever it is I am trying to figure out by what I can see and comparisions....thats all...

course, I could be looking at all this "BASSACKWARDS"....so here's your chance to feel 'superior'...ha ha(kidding...sorta)


From the Flight Deck said...

Getjets. You're sure asking a "unique" question. :)

But in the name of making me feel "superior...here it goes. LOL

Yes, from the ramp you are referring to taxiway Gulf, then there is a fork (there always seems to be a fork in the road) so we turn left onto Foxtrot, then turn right on runway 14 but we "hold short of 23 and contact tower on 118.4."

If you turned right at the fork onto "Echo" it would be near the same area a young instructor exited the plane and allowed his also young student (19) to
fly his first solo flight 31 years ago. In fact the runways changed their name because magnetic north has shifted since then.

Halifax has a unique ramp procedure. Someone decided to move the tower to the centre of the field. Because of it, the controllers claim they can't see
the ramp...cough, cough. (well maybe in very low vis) But this now entails all of us to make blind transmissions on a designated frequency
122.12. They say they were going to resolve the issue with a better ground radar, but that was years ago...

Thanks for making me feel superior... :))))))))))

Captain Doug

getjets said...


so I was right!!!!!!!

I will take my 15 SECONDS of fame .....in a "to go" box....Thank ya very much!!!!
what a smart ass i am....

Of course, you stop...before turing onto R 23..
give me some credit........but thank you for clearing that up!!!lol

seriously, I appreciate you answering!!!!

....I must have spent 2 hours waiting for that damn AC A-320 ish to finally take off, so I could get some bearings....
It was great....

doncha think a post on how runways are numbered would be interesting???? I had no idea...till Tampa's runway or runways were renumbered....
and don't tell me your superior mmmmmmmm already 'been there, done that'....lol
would be a good one....

Well, get back to your "STRESSFUL" vacation....lol
it is time to open a bottle of red, I am a "deer camp" widow this weekend....so look out(kidding)

renting a bunch of movies....

time to change frequencies
later Captain Doug

and again Thank You....and the white "superior horse" you rode in on....
now you know I am just funnin with ya....
How bout you get back to work and become a productive member of society again.....lol A...gain

gotta get back to tracking my flights....
ah, the life of an aviation geek of sorts...


From the Flight Deck said...


Ya know....I was needing a third question for July's enRoute. I just might have it...how runways are numbered. Just wrote one for June as to how we find our way on the ground so this might compliment things nicely. Thanks!

Your name might be up in lights providing you don't cuss on my blog. :))))

You were doing so well, but it looks like you fell off the wagon a little. LOL
Think "G rated" when you post. :))))))

Midnight my vacation ends so I might pick up some extra flying. The "boss" is giving me that look again and no it's not the one with love her in eye. LOL


Anonymous said...

I was thinking of this article yesterday during the crazy high winds we had in Ontario. Apparently the wind gauge here at YOW broke.

Also had a nice flight into YVR on the A321 today. Whoever was doing the landing greased it pretty good.

Still pondering a career in aviation, I just don't know what I want to do exactly. Not sure if I can handle the pilot life.

- Craig M

Cedarglen said...

Captain Doug: Comments and responses seem vigirous, but new posts are hmm missing? You might be taking a break, which might be smart. If you have run out of ideas, I can offer a few. Your blog, Sir and your choice. It really IS a fun read, Doug. Always! Best wishes, -Craig.

From the Flight Deck said...

Cedarglen (Craig).

Very astute on your part! Yes, I've been told I am spending too much time on the computer and to back off. Because the awful weather here in Ontario (stalled upper low that wouldn't go away) has finally broke, I have marching orders for outdoor projects.

It's not that I am running out of blog ideas, I think I have enough ammunition to blog everyday for a very long time, but in order to keep the "domestic" seat belt sign from coming on, I must obey orders.

On that note, I'm in the backyard moving trees, to make room for others plus a huge deck and trellis yours truly must build.

All the best....


Cedarglen said...

Thanks, Doug. I hear you! There are oders and then there are ORDERS! This reader is holding at FL150 and have plenty of fuel. I too am doing chores at order, hoofing it up the hill in a few minutes to fix a glitch in our domestic water system. Best guess is a bear chew as it usually is. Heck! Everone needs a little bear spit in their water, right? Regards, -Craig

getjets said...

Captain Doug, misstwa is apologetic concerning any cuss words or smartipants statements that may have seemed over the top!!!!
My initial question was a legitament one, and you answered it. I was so Excited.....

Excited.... that I may have been, to some degree right, about the taxiing question I posed.

and thinking back.... to some, the "?" may have seemed trivial or silly.

Again I thank you for answering:))

My roots are in Newfoundland..very important and soon to be rediscoverd!!! but most of my life lived here in the South, and we can get a bit overzealous in situations at times...and I was just that, with my return comment!!!
I am sorry Captain Doug is disapointed with me:((((( Apology...

and with saying that, I hope you don't mind...I am probably way outta line here.....but "innuendo" and "ahem's" can also be a sign of one tumbling off the same wagon...or dragging one foot to the ground...please don't be upset with me...
This is in no way an excuse for my language!!!!!!!!
If and when I comment again, I will keep all this in mind!!!! promise....

I love talking about aviation...and reading all yours,and your people's comments... and their point's of view...stories within the stories, and for a passionate avai geek,such as myself... it is DOWNRIGHT THE BEST!!!!!!

I always try to give interesting accounts or comments,and to contribute in some way!!!!!!!!!
but seems I am always saying 'sorry'

my intentions are always Well Meaning!!!!! I hope that you would know that about me!!!!!

So enough already....
This concludes my "WHA WHA" party...and thanks for listening..i mean that:)))

Happy and Safe flying to you and to all your friends!!!!

misstwa ^j^

on a lighter note for a moment...

PS....that had to be fastest 15 seconds of "Fame"....ever!!!! lol
bye now
getjets signing off....

From the Flight Deck said...

Getjets. I knew reprimanding you would end up getting me reprimanded. :)))

Touche....as far as my innuendoes, "ahems" and double talk sometimes.

And yes, your intentions are always well meaning. :))))

Reprimanded Captain Doug