Monday, 25 May 2009

Don't marry an airline pilot

The other day, I came across this entry on a blog by the ubiquitous David Learmount, Editor of Flight International and general rent-an-aviation-expert for any newspaper or news programme you care to mention.

He wrote it last year, and I'm not sure why I didn't come across it sooner. I don't generally find myself agreeing with a lot of what he has to say, but this did ring true:

"Pilots must have a gypsy soul to survive. That may not be new, but it's particularly true as the downturn bites. Ideally, pilots should have no family ties beyond mum and dad. If they acquire a family en route, every member of it has to be incredibly tolerant of the pilot's chosen lifestyle. "

I have to agree. The best way to get through your pilot training and the first few years of employment is to be single, no doubt about it. Of course, many relationships DO survive this period (ours, for one) but it's a tremendously difficult time, and not one we care to remember. Many relationships failed during my husband's ATPL training, for a number of reasons: distance, money worries, inability to spend time together due to pressure of work, stress generated by fear of not getting a job at the end of it all... You get the picture. Then, even if a job does come up, it's usually low paid, and could in fact be anywhere in the world! I remember my husband applying for jobs in India and the Far East. Luckily for us it never came to that, although of course we have now had to make the move anyway, although thankfully later on in his career when he had enough hours to secure a job with a serious, legacy airline. I feel we've both discovered a bit of our "gypsy soul" in the last few months. This isn't a career for the faint hearted.

I digress, but Learmount then goes on to talk about how airlines in general are taking the piss at the moment when it comes to pilot recruitment, going so far as to expect pilots to self-fund their own type-rating BEFORE offering them a job (so called pay-to-fly schemes, which are now very common - amongst them Thomas Cook and Ryanair, and I imagine many others). In fact, Ryanair have stopped recruitment at the moment for experienced First Officers, preferring instead to take ab initio students, as this MAKES THEM MONEY. Don't even get me started... grrrrrr....!

So to elaborate - don't marry an airline pilot - unless:

  • You have an incredible amount of patience
  • A solid job that earns decent money
  • Don't mind doing a lot of stuff by yourself
  • Don't mind moving all over the world
  • Are a dab hand with ebay/ freecycle/ putting up shelves one-handed/checking tyre pressures
  • You have a great sense of humour
  • You're a very trusting sort of person... AND
  • You love him more than anyone else in the world.

And to be honest, if that's the case... You should be fine. Really. There are times when it will all drive you crazy, but I promise, it WILL be worth it. Honest.

And remember - marry the MAN, not the pilot. If you marry him just because he's a pilot, you'll be very disappointed!


  1. Truer words have never been spoken... ha ha. I love the man I married, it doesn't matter that he is a pilot or flips burgers. But I also have many of the qualities you listed, and think its very true. I was a very independant woman when we met, and in the end I think that is a good thing. A co-dependent person can't marry a pilot. Today is our 7 yr anniv. and we are very happy still.

  2. That really was a very good post!

  3. I'm a pilot and hope to one day find a woman as you describe. I love my career very much, and I also hope to find a loving woman to share it with. You have summed up most of the qualities I look for in a woman; thanks for the article!

  4. I'm doing exactly what your post says not to do! :) Although I can definitely see where you are coming from.

    My husband-to-be and I are both pilots. However, I don't have enough hours to apply for a job with an airline quite yet, and am home much more often than he is. He and I both understand the nature of the career, and have similar career goals, and I think that makes a huge difference in how our jobs affect our relationship.

  5. Very interesting post. My husband has accepted an airline job in a very poor country which means unfortunately i wont be able to go with him, he will get 2 weeks off every 6 weeks so i guess it wont be so bad, i love him more than anything and will miss him as he is my best friend too, we have been married for 5 years and have stuck together throughout all his training so im confident we will be fine, i cant help but worry though. :(

  6. oh wow i really dont know how to respond to this. I have been with my pilot for 4 yrs, he's done with his training and he's been working for a commercial airline for about a year. Now that i see his crazy schedule i have my doubts, and we are planning to get married. i really cant tell if i have the qualities that you posted, but i do know that i love him, and that i've been good up to now. but it is scary tot hink that eventually it can get worst than seeing him two days a week, since his base is not where i live. i hope it will change a little when we live together but honestly dont have a clue. since i can see you have way more experience can i ask you what questions should i ask him regarding his career goals? i mean what kind of job, meaning domestic vs intl flights would get him home the most? we're both 25yo. and just wanna make the right deision, but i cant really see my life without him. so any good advice i will truly appreciate it.


    1. How are things with you two now?

  7. I want to marry my boyfriend, I met him being a pilot..I am truly in love with him and I am willing to support him no matter what.

  8. Then marry him. I've been married to a pilot for 18 years and I love it.

  9. Married to my pilot for 12 years, and I love the lifestyle. You have to be independent, not clingy, trusting, and patient. If you think yu will always be resentful or suspicious, then don't marry him. I love that I'm allowed to be on my own a lot (which I crave) but when we are together as a family, we are inseparable and it is really special. if that sounds too hard, then walk away now.

  10. My fiance and I are both pilots, he's busy working and I am still training, so we are constantly moving around.
    The qualities that are mentioned are very important, one needs to be very understanding and have a lot of patience, which makes it a bit easier for us, as we are in the same career.
    People often bring up all the negative aspects of being with a pilot, but quite frankly there are many careers which can create a similar relationship situation.
    So I say yes, sometimes it doesn't work out, because it truly can be very challenging at times.
    But if you are strong, able to trust your partner with not a doubt(which I personally think any relationship should have any way) ,be very understanding and just have no doubt in your mind that, that person is the one for you, no one and nothing, should influence you otherwise.
    Because life is difficult, but there can still be so much beauty in the world, and isn't it nice to have someone to share that with, no matter what they do.

  11. Married to my pilot for 6 happy, wonderful years. I agree with the "gypsy soul" remark, we both have it and need a lot of humor and patience to overcome the trenches of constant separation (i.e. calling me to say he's not coming home on Thanksgiving Day when I have a part of 6 arriving for a turkey feast) but I'd add that in order to have a happy marriage you have to like yourself, consider yourself a COMPLETE person WITHOUT your pilot by your side and know how to enjoy life and manage your extensive social network alone.
    If you are as independent as I am then the joy of being married to an awesome individual (pilots are so unique and cool!) will overshadow the quirks and annoyances of all the unknowns. After all, every career has its downfalls but not many have the perks that aviation do!

  12. Sorry it's not all roses and while I love my husband as a person, I truly hate and resent his career at the moment, I hate the unpredictability and that I'm the one left explaining to the crying kids again why daddy isn't coming home when he was supposed to. I'm also the one left scrambling to figure things out when his 2 day trip unexpectedly turns into a 5 or 6 day trip.

  13. DO NOT MARRY A PILOT!!! You will not get to make any travel plans more than two weeks in advance, when he does come home all he wants to do is relax (although I've been the one at home working full time AND taking care of the house and kids), and my guess knowing a large number of pilots is that more engage in infidelity than don't. RUN!!!




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