was). It’s part of the “warrior ethos.” And I
loved that about military flying: the dedication, the commitment, the patriotism, the
camaraderie. In my 24-year military career,
16 years were spent flying single pilot. To
this day, I can mentally sit myself in that
cockpit and go back to what was on my
mind: the target! My mission was reconnaissance, and surveillance and targets were my
job. (I had another crew member with me
whose responsibility it was to operate the
surveillance equipment, but he/she had no
flight controls.) Flying single-pilot-military
(read: someone else buying the gas) remains
the cat’s meow in my book. I miss it. And I’d
do it all over again for free.
The airline business was quite differ-
ent. The mindset when I sat down in the
cockpit with all that well-maintained,
technological magnificence was, “This is
a team effort (read: crew) to get the pas-
sengers from Point A to Point B as safely
and smoothly as possible.” Airline proce-
dures are pretty rigid, and necessarily so.
First officers don’t need “cowboy cap-
tains” making things up as they go along;
they deserve to know what to expect.
Thus, rigid procedures. And the crew
part: I always made it a point to ask and
know something about the people I was
working with on the trip. The better we
knew each other, the better we worked
together. That worked for me for 26
years. And, in the airline business, know-
ing what’s going on in the back is almost
as important as knowing what’s going on
in the front.
(read: someone else buying the
gas) remains the cat’s meow in
my book. I miss it. And I’d do it
all over again for free.
right on altitude, roll out of a turn at the
same rate you rolled into it, planning run-
way turnoffs without slamming on the
brakes, those sorts of things. Yeah, I
sometimes tired of the travel and the
hotels, but never of the flying. I miss the
smiles and handshakes from the passen-
gers (minus the nasty weather delays, of
course). I’d do it all over again. Not sure
I’d do it all over again for free. I did
rather enjoy getting those paychecks for
doing what I loved to be doing.
Lauran Paine Jr., EAA 582274, is a retired military
pilot and retired airline pilot. He built and flies an RV- 8
and has owned a Stearman and a Champ. Learn more
about Lauran at his website, www.ThunderBumper.com.