Tuesday, December 5th 2017, 01:01 UTC
2555.3N / 00212.7E
39000 FT / 980 km/h
We're flying at 39000ft, or 11900m, at a speed of about 1000 km/h. My screens' lights reminds me how important it is, to always have them in my visual circuit (eyes' path between the different instruments, instinctively). It's 2AM in France, and my friends are certainly about to go to bed ; or, for the insomniacs ones, finish watching their favorite TV series. The world that runs under our feet is peacefully keeping its pace ; while we, airmen, are at the front row of the stratosphere. This sight, halfway between the Sahara's dunes enlightened by the full moon ; and the Big Deeper showing to us and our compass the north, will never stop filling me with wonder.
We now left Accra, Ghana, since 2 hours and 45 minutes, where a soft heat stroked our skins (much more used to the harsh Parisian winter). The magic of the plane... Switching between countries, cultures, peoples and even seasons is part of our nomadic life. A systems' check is needed, also called “scanning” in our jargon. Our Airbus A330, consuming 4,5 tons of kerosene per hour, has already burnt 17 tons of it. Instead this consumed JET-A1, our weight is 161 tons. I don't think that the Wright brothers would have one day imagined that a huge plane as this one, could take off.
24°C in the cabin for our dear passengers. Most of them have a stopover at Paris, for America, or Asia. 8°C in the cargo hold, where we have more than 1300 kg of mangos and pineapples stored. Tomorrow morning, they will be on the shelves, for your great pleasure. And all this, with an outside air temperature of -60°C.
Being an airline pilot is not just being a “driver”. As a mission leader, the technical staff is ensuring of the flight's smooth run: technically, commercially, but also safely. This set of parameters must be anticipated, controlled, and, if needed, corrected. That's what gives us a successful mission.
Being an airline pilot is not just engaging the automatic pilot, and twiddling your thumbs (as I can often hear it, by ignorance or mockery). It's being ready to face every situation, training many times a year, at the simulator, to ensure our capacities; and staying humble facing elements.
Being an airline pilot, it's practicing a trade apart, who interests and raises questions, who intrigues and fascinates.
That's why I created these notes, to share my experience with you, aviation enthusiast or not, as best as I could.