15 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of Airline Pilots

The position of an airline pilot demands respect because he has a skill you don’t, and your life depends on that skill. At the same time, it’s a job like any other, and has its up and downs. Many are particular to the career, like all that travel without any time to see the sights. And then there are other things the rest of us never think about.


Eric Auxier, a captain with more than two decades of experience for a major carrier, says that most name-brand airlines prohibit taking anything into the cockpit that could serve as a distraction: no magazines, no paperbacks, no music, and no knitting. “We talk amongst ourselves," he says. "That’s all we’re legally allowed to do.”


According to Smith, kidney stones are a common occupational hazard. Pilots don’t always hydrate properly, and post-9/11 Federal Aviation Association (FAA) rules about entering the cabin can make a trip to the bathroom a chore. It all adds up to stress on the urinary tract. “The protocols for leaving the cockpit are very strict,” he says. “It’s inconvenient to get up when the cabin crew is serving refreshments, too, so we tend to hold it in.”

It’s not all bad news, though. Read a lot more trivia about the job of an airline pilot at mental_floss.

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