It’s a good thing he likes being a Captain so much since each of these stories reveal the drawbacks (as well as the many benefits) of a flying career. It takes years to become a Captain, even of the smallest feeder airlines, and then a lot more to graduate into the jumbo jet. Along the way you are tested on a daily basis; professional judgment is acquired only over a long, long time in the cockpit.
As passengers, we have come to take flying for granted (including its numerous inconveniences), yet it is still a miracle to enter the door of a large airliner and soon enough to walk out that very door into a distant city. It’s not nearly as simple as it seems, and one of the great themes of Masterson’s book is the constant threat of vagaries of weather. Forecasting isn’t at all what it ought to be, and the pilot in command is the guy who has to determine how much fuel he thinks it will take to land at an alternate airport, at night, in rain, in fog and weary as all humans can become under long periods of stress.
For those of us who are interested in such matters, the descriptions of flight routine, systems, semi-annual retesting in the daunting simulator, all the technical stuff are fascinating and vivid. Yet there is quite another dimension to “Pilots of the Line” and that is Masterson’s humanness. This guy really likes people, he cares for his crew and takes care of his passengers. In so doing, he faces more challenges than those of us non-pilots can imagine, and since they happen at 30,000 feet, facing them correctly really matters. This book will reinforce your initial reaction when you see a four-striper lugging the black bag and a Starbucks at 6 a.m. down the same corridor you walk, heading for Gate 23 and the flight to Sacramento.
Join him, it’s a great ride.
by Tom Knight
These essays are not presented in chronological order but instead in a more meaningful way, developing emotional interest.