The Path to Flying the Big Jets Commercially
We have all seen them criss crossing the sky, leaving thin, white streaks in their wake. Jet aircraft, climbing through the rarefied air of high altitudes, are a major mode of transportation throughout the world. Flying these aluminum tubes are skilled aviators that have been thoroughly trained and tested. But these men and women weren't always at the controls of jet airplanes. At some point in their careers they were sitting behind the controls of a small, propeller driven airplane, sweating profusely as an instructor showed them how to fly. From there, the path led to different ratings and experiences and eventually to the yoke of a turbine powered airplane, complete with smiling passengers in the back.
That first flight typically consists of the basic elements of flight. An instructor will be on hand to guide, and possibly keep out of trouble, the new pilot. Both students and instructors hands will typically be on the controls at all times these first few flights. A takeoff, a few turns and some other maneuvers are all on the plate for the first few times out.
As the student pilot progresses, the instructors will usually free themselves of the controls more often, though always with a wary eye on the novice next to them. More and more, the student will find themselves at the controls of the airplane and each time confidence will build. While this seems like an experience that a pilot only goes through once, it actually repeats itself every time a pilot changes planes. The only thing that follows a pilot from day 1 to the big planes is the checklist.
From the preflight, a careful walk around the airplane checking for any overt sign of problems, damage or something out of the ordinary to the start up and taxi out, the pilot's life is governed by checklists. These detail the sequence of what goes where, the right button to push and the actions necessary for a safe flight. Checklists will remain an important part of flying all the way through the commercial aspect of the career.