The ‘Pilot Personality’
Beneath our ruggedly handsome exteriors
WE ALL KNOW WHAT pilots truly are, right? Just like the guy in the
drawing (or his female equivalent). Maybe not quite as handsome
(or beautiful), but pretty dang appealing in ways that have little to do
with mere looks. We are competent, intelligent, courageous, able to
take on difficult tasks and get them done, and work well under pressure—these count for a lot more than a winning smile and a Dudley
All of which may be true. The social scientists who study behav-
ior, however, talk about “The Pilot Personality.” If that phrase sounds
familiar, it’s probably because the idea that pilots are different from
most people has been around for a long time.
I first heard about it from my older brother,
a captain with United Airlines, years ago. He
said quite a lot, as older brothers always do,
while I pretended to listen, pretty much
waiting until he got back to actual aviation
topics. “Pilot Personality” is not an aviation
topic; it’s a psycho-socio-touchy-feely topic.
Still, it’s something we need to be prepared
for in case somebody accuses us of it.