Monday, 28 April 2008

Horror stories

Yesterday, I had a bit of time on my hands, so I had a search on the net for other pilot's wife blogs and groups. I wish I hadn't really; there are quite a few, and so many seem to have something in common - they are FULL of horror stories.

Now, a large factor in this will of course be that people seek out help when they're in trouble, and don't tend to bother when they're not. It's human nature. And then of course there is the so-called "troll" factor, those people who deliberately post inflammatory stuff to get people going. But these reasons can't account for all the stories, of course.

Once you meet (and start to go out with) a pilot, people never tire of the old jokes about having "a girl in every port". People at parties, work colleagues, and even close friends, start to have joking (but slightly meaningful) conversations with you about what they've seen on TV (ever seen Mile High?!) and ask whether it's like that in real life.

Pilots, it seems, have a reputation! They're all supposed to be ultra-virile, gorgeous and loaded, and lacking in morality. Faced with a beautiful woman, they're supposed to just drop their trousers and open their wallets. And, of course, be adept at leading a double life (ever read The Pilot's Wife?!)

A lot of the horror stories you read are similar. Wives whose husbands turn out to have other families, wives who discover their husband is sleeping with someone else from his airline, husbands who discover the big world out there, and start to find home life tremendously dull.

Of course these stories make me sad. Each one is a personal tragedy. But that's what I think they are: personal. Generalisations are pointless. Each man or woman is different, can make different choices, has a different relationship, different morals, different beliefs. Some pilots will have affairs, just as will men and women from all sorts of walks of life. That's just who they are!

And others won't.

But, I hear you say, flying has an image for cheating, doesn't it? Well, yes, it does. That's because the men and women who do it often get to stay away from home for long periods, and if they wanted to cheat, they could, easily. For some people, I think, that's far too appealing to turn down.

I still maintain, though, that, as an individual, everyone has a choice, and the vast number of pilots and crew I've met through my husband are faithful. I can think of a few notable exceptions, but then, can't we all think of those from our friends, in all sorts of jobs?

Finally, then, it just comes back to good, old fashioned trust. I trust my husband. No matter who he's with, where in the world he is, or how many people flirt with him, I know he'll put me first. And so, no matter how many horror stories I read, I won't be having any sleepless nights.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Over zealous airport security?

Airline crew have to go through very stringent checks to get passes that allow them to work "airside" at the airport. They have to account for all their addresses over five years, and give an abundance of personal details, to make sure (and sensibly so) that there's nothing in their background to cause concern. Consequently, they are about as checked-out as you can get.

Why, then, are they subjected to such degrading and infuriating searches at airports? Let me explain....

My husband and his colleagues have to go through the same security checks as passengers, which is fair enough. But what I don't understand is why in many cases the security staff find it so necessary to go above and beyond this, to such an extent that many pilots believe it could have an effect on safety. This is an extract from Chirp, which is an anonymous safety reporting system which anyone can read - just take a look here.

"During the lower body search the guard touched me on the right testicle, at which point I cautioned him that I objected. He then proceeded to touch my left testicle, so I put my left hand out to touch him on the chest to confirm to him that enough was enough. He then said I'd assaulted him by punching him in the chest. A supervisor said the police should be informed. I was cautioned, charged, and taken to a police station."

And this is another - she/he is an air traffic controller:

"I find myself at the beginning of each and every shift calming down at least one member of my staff who have felt harassed, and, quite frankly, not in the correct frame of mind to control upwards of 55 aircraft movements per hour".

My concern is just this, that one day a pilot is going to be so angry and distracted that he/she makes a fatal error. It's not just this feeling of having their privacy invaded; many pilots I know also say they've been made late for their flight, which is a worrying trend. After all, they have enough to deal with already, with fatigue, the pressure to fly to schedule, and the congestion in Britain's airports (particularly Heathrow, which is a nightmare.) Extra pressures are certainly not needed.

These levels of security just doesn't make sense to me. No amount of airport screening is going to stop a potential suicide bomber pilot crashing an aircraft, if that's what they have decided to do. They don't NEED any weapons to cause mass destruction, do they?

It strikes me that it's all just a power trip (which I've experienced in a small way as a passenger, and that's quite enough for me, thanks!) But the terrible question is, how long before this sad little self-esteem boost causes a tragedy?

Monday, 21 April 2008

A little about this blog

It feels strange to be writing this, as it's really a culmination of years of thinking that I really must get round to chronicling our life in some way, and quite frankly, I'm far too disorganised to manage to keep a paper diary! And, of course, it's also a way of reaching out to other women in my position.

I remember when we started this life (a very long time ago now) I was very scared indeed. Our relationship was pretty new, and all the time apart seemed insurmountable. I've always been an independent woman, and suddently this violent tugging I felt in my heart every time my husband walked out of our front door was deeply unsettling. Added to that, the neurosis I found myself dealing with for the first year or so knocked me for six. Suddenly the secure, ecstatically happy woman I knew myself to be become concerned about young, gorgeous hostesses and their flirtations, and I couldn't quite believe it.

But, as they say, time was a great healer, and I'm glad to say that those days are long gone. Our marriage has more than survived, in fact, it's better, it really is. All those things you go through, all that time apart, actually serve to make you cherish each other, to make you crave for each other, and trust me, that's great for a marriage!

Anyhow, I intend to use this blog to write about our experiences, issues that affect the industry, and also to (hopefully) encourage other women out there who might find themselves in the same situation. I hope you enjoy reading it.



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