Monday, May 24, 2010

Ask the (fastidious) pilot

Recently plane travel’s been on my mind. Because in the last few days at least three members of my immediate family have been flying. And tomorrow I’ll be. So far in May there’ve been four major plane crashes [1]. Whilst many many people work hard to prevent crashes, once a plane’s in the air, it all comes down to the performance of the cockpit crew. When I was a nipper the cockpit head honcho was called the pilot. But now it’s the captain. (Why? I know not.) Sweetheart Vivienne’s long said that each time she flies she hopes the captain has a family he/she loves. That’s superstition at it’s irrational best. Me? I’m more pragmatic. I know the occupation of airline captain – being a high status and highly paid one – is sought after. And I guess that because supply exceeds demand, the selection process is rigorous. Also tailored, so successful applicants are level-headed, conscientious and responsible. And that above all, they have impeccable attention to detail. So I’m relieved, and validated, to see this ‘Ask the Pilot’ item on last Friday [2]. The pilot/writer – Patrick Smith (pictured) [3] – is so fastidious he’s even found errors in the New Yorker. That’s no mean feat. His attention to detail puts mine to shame. Again, no mean feat. Smith doesn’t work for Jetstar, so he won’t be the pilot/captain of my flight to Melbourne tomorrow. But I hope my pilot/captain will be equally exacting. I really do.

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