I take issue with the insinuation in Mr. Anderson’s letter on jan. 29 regarding airline expenses, that pilots who earn less than airline pay are somehow incompetent and unprofessional.
I am a retired flight instructor and business jet pilot who flew for 25 years. During those years in aviation I was exposed to many different flying jobs. Many are equally (and often, more) difficult, far more dangerous, and less lucrative than flying large jets over canned routes for an airline served by a massive infrastructure.
And has he forgotten that many airline pilots have taken voluntary pay cuts to save their companies? Should we assume that since their pay has declined, their job performance has followed suit? Of course not. He is confusing compensation with professionalism.
I can’t feel sorry that he only made $100,000 per year for his last years flying. I bet the pilots flying the slurry bombers to whom we are so grateful in our valley, or the military transport and fighter pilots defending this country, or the many fine and eminently professional flight instructors who teach everyone to fly would love to earn half that pay.
How about the law enforcement and forest service pilots, the EMT/air ambulance pilots who carry patients and sometimes donated organs, the aerial applicators who protect and fertilize our crops, the charter and corporate pilots who support local businesses and bring supplies and mail to wilderness areas like Alaska?
Should we consider these very professional, hard-working and dedicated pilots to be somehow substandard because they don’t make huge paychecks?
I believe that most pilots who learn to fly and make a career of it do so because they love physically flying the aircraft, the sense of accomplishment and service, and all the wonderful people they meet in the aviation field.
If one doesn’t love being a pilot and take pride in such work, the paycheck (however large) can neither offset the sacrifices of the job nor guarantee professionalism and competence.
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Visual Journalist Chelsea Self can be reached at 970-384-9108 or firstname.lastname@example.org