Nervous Flier

April 18, 2010

in Airplane Stories

First off let me start by admitting that I am a nervous flier. My wife flies three or four times a month for business. My wife, stepson and I flew to St. Louis for a week of fun, Cardinals game, Riverboat ride, zoo visit, Six Flags, etc.

The flight over was pretty smooth and uneventful. However, the return flight was something very different. After taking our seat I told my son that the pilot looked like he was 14, to which he replied “Nah he looks about twenty.” We were informed that we were first in line, which I like to hear, cuts down on the takeoff turbulence. We were going down the runway and as soon as the thrusters kicked in the cockpit door flew completely open. The pilot turned around quickly with a “oh shit” look on his face, like he just knew someone was coming into the cockpit; this is the guy controlling the aluminum can rolling down the runway at 150mph. Anyway, I got to see takeoff from the front for the first time.

 On descent into Charlotte we hit a few clouds; they didn’t seem that bad but the airplane was all over the place, to the left and to the right, just really felt like the pilot didn’t have much control over the aircraft; it smoothed out after about thirty seconds or so. On final approach I thought that we were going way too fast but what do I know?

The landing was for lack of a better word, “painful.” We were slammed into the runway with a loud boom at which everyone on board let out a simultaneous “Whoa!” My wife told the flight attendant to thank Batman and Robin for the landing. Anyway, I was very happy to be back on the ground. I know pilots have to get their experience somehow, but why oh why does it have to be with me?

P.S. Isn’t it Federal law that the cockpit door must be locked before takeoff? If they forgot that what else did they forget?

– Nervous Ken

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

DSD April 18, 2010 at 8:24 am

It may not have been fun for you, but that was pretty much an average flight. Maybe a little extra dish of excitement but far from a flight from hell


MD-11 April 18, 2010 at 12:42 pm

That "kid" flying your airplane was likely doing so for 20 dollars an hour or less, and before you say thats a decent amount, keep in mind pilots can't work nearly as many hours as a regular full time job, so he's probably only making about 20,000 a year. Plus he's likely paying off flight training loans that could be as high as 60-70 thousand or more depending on where he got his training. Bottom line, you likely payed far too little for your seat as most of the American public does, and are somehow disappointed with the lack of service your minimal fee gets you.


Hugh April 18, 2010 at 11:48 pm

MD-11, please cite the source of your statistics. Seems like you have some ax to grind, and it has nothing to do with this post. I will agree that this hardly seems like a flight from hell, but a diatribe about the poor underpaid pilots seems unwarranted. In addition, your salary numbers seem WAY off, especially about pilots being paid hourly vice a salary. Again, please cite your source, and if I'm incorrect, I'll apologize.


Hugh April 19, 2010 at 2:46 am

I am a t o o l.


Hugh April 19, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Wow, taking to impersonating my account, rather than answering a simple question. I asked quite respectfully, I might add. Hmmm, wonder why this response.


MD-11 April 19, 2010 at 12:34 pm

That wasn't me if you were wondering, and my source is Let's do some math, shall we?

Pinnacle Airlines

Starting FO wage-21$ an hour

Monthly hour guarantee-75

75x21x12= $18,900

Yes, that is really how much some pilots are making. It's like this at virtually all of the regional airlines. Per diem can bump it up a little, but not much, and keep in mind they get that because they have to buy food and sleep away from home often where it is more expensive to do so. It's a big problem in the industry, it forces a lot of pilots to commute which can lead to increased fatigue risks, which while not as great a factor as poor training, was an issue with the Colgan crash in Buffalo.

I will refer you here for more info:

I'm not calling anyone out specifically, but I think the flying public needs to know that airline fares have not gone up significantly in the past 20 years, and services and salaries have had to have been sacrificed as a result.


Hugh April 19, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Well, as I stated, I will apologize. I will add however that pilots for larger airlines make CONSIDERABLY more than a junior officer for a regional airline. According to WikiAnswers:

That said: According to the Air Line Pilots Association, their average major* airline member Captain is 50 years old, with 18 years seniority and makes $182,000 a year. A non-major airline Captain is 41 years old with 10 years of seniority and makes $70,000 a year.

So , as one can see, there is a BIG difference.



Gregg - admin April 19, 2010 at 1:14 pm

The disparity in pay between the major airlines and the regional ones is even worse in some cases. According to this article:, the co-pilot of the Colgan plane that crashed was only making around $16,000 a year, and once held a job in a coffee shop while working as a pilot to make ends meet.


IncreaseDosologist April 21, 2010 at 3:29 am

But she took a huge pay cut from her job as a flight instructor, just to get a seat as a FO on an air carrier. She was at Colgan less than 1 year at the time and at the time she was hired had no ATP and no hours in turbine planes.


patsytp March 20, 2016 at 11:05 pm

If she had notATP no turbine hours, I highly douby she would have been on that flight for any more than 'flight experience". During the glut of any airline (regional, charter or small airline) It was not unkown of pilots in WA to fly the "newspaper shift" for free, just to crank up their hours, then stock the shelves at supermarkets at night.


david April 19, 2010 at 2:12 pm

hugh (the real one) dont worry this child has nothing better to do with his time, he does the same with my name because he cant conjure any productive response or know how to make any logical remarks…….its ok he will go hide under a rock or go crying back to mommy when he is 40 and live in the basement


Leave a Comment
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous post:

Next post: