Airline pilot – connecting people​

    Spotlight 9/2023
    Pilot im Cockpit
    © privat

    My name is David Ferrel. I’m a pilot with United Airlines, based in Los Angeles, California. I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a pilot, and I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to become one. Beyond flying the plane, I enjoy meeting passengers, to hear why they’re traveling – whether they’re starting their vacation or to reunite with sb.sich mit jmdm. treffen​reuniting with family. Connecting people across the globe is so rewarding.​

    There are so many highlights

    I got started by earning my private pilot’s license during my senior year (N. Am.)Abschlussklassesenior year of high school. I then attended Purdue University’s professional pilot program, where I completed a master’s degreeMaster-Abschlussmaster’s degree and commercial pilot’s licensePilotenschein einer Fluggesellschaftcommercial pilot’s license. Unfortunately, there were few pilot jobs available at the time, so I took an airline office job. Several years later, I finally got a job as a regional airline pilot, which is a common first step in the profession. I spent four years flying a regional jet aircraftDüsenflugzeug​jet aircraft and, in early 2022, I joined United Airlines, where I now fly a Boeing 737.​

    When I leave home, I’m typically away for four days, but it can be as long as six, or as short as one day. The routes I fly vary as well. I may fly as far east as New York, as far south as Ecuador, as far west as Hawaii, or as far north as Alaska. It’s not a typical nine-to-five job8-Stunden-Tag​nine-to-five job, obviously!​

    To be a successful airline pilot, you must have a few key characteristics. Most obvious is having the mental staminapsychische Ausdauer, Kondition​mental stamina and motor skillsmotorische Fähigkeiten​motor skills needed to operate complex aircraft. Importantly, too: You must be a team player. Operating large aircraft requires a crew and there’s never room on the flight deckFlugdeck, Cockpitflight deck for “solo” pilots. Pilots must also wear many to wear many hatsviele Funktionen ausüben​hats at work: team leader, meteorologistMeteorologe, Meteorologin​meteorologist, flight computer manager, aeronauticalLuftfahrt-​aeronautical expert, and sometimes customer service agent. This all comes with significant sacrificeOpfer(bereitschaft)​sacrifice, as you and your family must accept that you’ll be away from home nearly half of your working life.​

    But there are so many highlights. My favorite has been flying in Alaska. There are lots of challenges there – harsh winters, limited airport infrastructure, and rocky mountain rangeGebirgskette​mountain ranges, among others – which all require special training. Alaska has some of the world’s most majestic landscapes, including the tallest mountain in North America, Denali (also known as Mount McKinley). When the weather was nice, we’d take a slight detourUmweg​detour to fly our passengers directly over the mountain. A rare view!​

    David Ferrel als Kind

    Thinking about all of this has made me remember my first flight as a kid. It was a two-hour trip from Indiana to Florida to visit Disney World. I remember the exhilarationHochgefühl​exhilaration of racing down the runwayStart- und Landebahn​runway and watching the world below us to shrinkschrumpfen​shrink. These days, one of my favorite things to do before a flight is invite a young person to the flight deck. I love watching their eyes light up with curiosity, and I hope that I can inspire the next generation of aviatorFlieger(in), Pilot(in)​aviators out there, too.​

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