Fighting For Pilots' Mental Health

I have made it to the world of FAA FAR Part 121 flying. For those of you who do not know the lingo, that means I am now flying for an airline. My long delay on writing anything on this blog for the past several weeks was due to being in training. There was much to learn on the systems of the CRJ 900. But I do believe that most of the pressure on about everyone in my class came from not learning the systems, but in the expectations we put in ourselves. 

I have wanted to fly for an airline for some time now. I am not sure why I have not in the past. Perhaps due to being able to get into charter work with better pay. This certainly is a very different kind of flying. With flying charter a pilot may fly up to three hundred hours per year. A pilot flying for an airline will fly closer to 1,000 hours per year. 

The training itself was intense. But not as overwhelming as I had anticipated it to be. I had heard stories of how in depth airlines expected its pilots to know the systems. However, my company has the same philosophy as what FlightSafety International has, which is, if you cannot do anything about it from the pilot seat, you do not need to know about it. I other words, I was not expected to know how to build the airplane. 

It feels great to be back in the flight levels. The view from above is as wonderful as I remember it being. I always loved seeing another aircraft passing the opposite direction just 1,000 feet above me when I was at altitude. The closure rate is over 1,000 miles per hour. Yes, I did say over one thousand miles per hour. But the other day I saw something I had never seen before. Even the captain I was flying with who had several thousand hours flying jets had not seen this. We had two aircraft approaching us in the opposite direction at the same time. One of these airplanes was 1,000 feet above us and the other was below us. I wish I would have had time to get the video going on my iPhone to get a good shot of it. This was amazing to see. 

I am using a new Sennheiser Digital S1 general aviation headset. The noise reduction on this headset is amazing. I am eager to use it in a prop aircraft so I can see just how good the noise reduction capability really is. But the thing I really like about the headset is its comfort. I have flown with a Bose before on days when I would be in an airplane for several hours and have my head hurt from the Bose being so uncomfortable. The Sennheiser is the most comfortable headset I have EVER used. 

The Sennheiser is not just comfortable, but it has great features. The S1 has Bluetooth syncing with your smart phone. This allows you to make phone calls and communicate using your headset. Normally I would not be too keen on something like this. However, how many times have any of us who are instrument rated been at a non towered airport and not be able to contact ATC on the ground to get a clearance and the weather is IMC? This feature makes it so easy to call flight service and talk to them through your headset leaving you hands free to write down the clearance. It is just as if you were making a radio call to ACT. 

Another great feature the S1 has is an auto off feature. If the headset is unplugged from the airplane or not in use for a given amount of time the power supply for the active noise reduction shuts off. This keeps your batteries from running down and gives you greater usage between changing batteries. 

Another thing I look forward to doing now that I have returned to the flight levels is taking pictures. I enjoy capturing moments that I find beautiful. My good SLR camera needs repair. So for now I will settle for what I can catch with my phone. 

A picture of me standing in front of my new ride!

The sunrise above the clouds coming out of Memphis early in the morning. 

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