cites their common passion, which is “everything aviation, of
course—this gives us lots to talk about.”
Which brings us to a commonly asked question: Is a pilot
better off married to another pilot? Naturally, there is no cor-
rect answer, but for the women in two-pilot relationships, one
of the greatest benefits is having a sympathetic ear with no
explanation required. A corporate pilot speaks for many when
she says, “Because I married a fellow pilot, my husband com-
pletely understands all the little things
that make this career different. He un-
derstands that when I have to wake up
at 3: 30 a.m. for an early trip that I might
skip out on dinner clean-up. He knows
how important rest is and helps to keep
the house quiet. He gets it that crew-
members hang out together on layovers.
He knows that we often wind up in fun
places and make the most of the trav-
el experience with each other as sub-
stitutes for our families. He also knows
that for every trip that involves snow-
mobiling in Alaska, there are countless hours waiting for late
passengers, dealing with weather, maintenance, stress, fa-
tigue, and everything else.”
The most frequently repeated advice from those with non-
pilot spouses is: Downplay the fun you have on trips. An-
other corporate pilot tells her story. “When I first started this
job, I was so excited that I told my husband every cool thing
that I got to do, and that really made him jealous!” she says.
“I choose my words much more carefully now. I don’t ever lie
to him, but I don’t brag about how I went snowboarding in
Aspen or how I got to lay on the beach all day in Antigua. I
just give him the straight facts—the flight was good, I’m safe
and in a nice hotel room, we ate dinner, and now I’m going
A corporate pilot friend describes how, as a newlywed,
her husband become jealous of her co-workers. “He thought
his new wife was going bar-hopping and out drinking with
a bunch of guys, while in reality I was having dinner and a
drink at a restaurant with usually one other male pilot,” she
says. “It got better when I upgraded to a larger aircraft with
a flight attendant, who is always female, and once he got to
know the guys I fly with, who are all my dad’s age.”
More than one airline pilot touched on the issue of infideli-
ty. The “Coffee, tea, or me?” atmosphere has for the most part
been supplanted by cost-cutting measures and increased pro-
ductivity, meaning longer work hours and shorter rest periods
for many airlines crews. However, the fact remains that there
is opportunity, availability, and attraction. Crewmembers end
up in hotels together with many hours to spare. Sometimes
the layovers are in distant countries where the local wom-
en are, to be perfectly frank, more admiring and subservient
than the typical American woman. A longtime woman airline
pilot explains how the scenario plays out: “These pilots get
to look at flight attendants who at least have make-up on and
are wearing clothes without vomit on them. Flight attendants
will listen to what we have to say at the end of a long day of
multiple legs and can bolster our pilot egos with ‘That was an
awesome landing!’ while their wives don’t ever stroke their
professional egos.” She concludes, “Listening and giving un-
divided attention to your spouse is absolutely paramount to a
A pilot for a major cargo airline found a unique solution
for finding romance whenever possible while on trips—with
her own husband. “During trips, during
the hours when the night sort was be-
ing done, I came home in the middle of
the night to have ‘romantic rendezvous’
with my husband,” she says. “We con-
ceived one of our children that way.”
• Print out a monthly and daily trip
schedule and post it on the fridge.
• Attempt to check in once a day, ev-
ery day, using some mode of communi-
cation. Use your cell phone, voicemail
messages, instant messaging, text messaging. Whatever it
takes to get through.
• Schedule times for phone calls and use Skype and video-
conferencing to connect with kids.
• So you can focus more on family while at home, get other
stuff done while on trips: Bring a laptop on trips to catch up
on email or take care of personal finances or volunteer activi-
ties. Study for recurrent training. Get your physical exercise.
• Be good at delegating and bribing—bribe the kids that if
they do certain things, you will do “such and such” for them
when you get home.
• Ask your in-laws for their help watching the kids so that
you and your spouse can have date nights or weekend get-
• Have your own center. Take time for yourself.
• Realize that the grass is probably not greener on the
other side. “Divorce crossed my mind several times in 30
years, but usually I found that my expectations of my hus-
band were probably unrealistic.”
• Start with shared values and establish a shared philoso-
phy on how to raise the kids.
• See that there are other ways of doing things—let it go.
• Start “Decision Days,” taking turns every other day mak-
ing decisions on things like what to have for dinner, what
movie to watch, etc.
• Meet halfway or on overnights.
• Be “present” even if you aren’t physically present.
• Put the relationship first and work second.
• Be totally committed, through good times and bad.
Remember, you are probably gone just long enough to be
missed; and home long enough for your spouse to be glad
when you leave. ✈
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
is a first officer for a major U.S. airline
and a columnist for
Aviation for Women.
Start “Decision Days,”
taking turns every other
day making decisions
on things like what
to have for dinner and
what movie to watch.
in this issue
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