Who Wants To Be An Airline Pilot, Anyway?


From the Are-You-As-Fed-Up-By-This-Pandemic As-I-Am file, this video came pixeling across my Facebook feed last week. It was produced by the Allied Pilots Association, the pilot union of American Airlines. If whatever segment of the economy you’re working in is back to normal, the airline and travel industry definitely is not.

The video takes a none-too-veiled swipe at American management for failing to rehire pilots as travel demand surges. It does so through the wide-eyed wonder of a new hire being shown the blackened ropes by a gray-haired Captain who explains schedule changes are the new normal and, oh, by the way, make your own hotel reservations.

I know the industry is still in chaotic flux as airlines struggle to match capacity with demand, but I don’t know how true this little scenario rings. If you’re a pilot for any airline, I’d welcome your reaction in the comments. On the one hand, pilots are at least back on the job and getting paid; on the other, they can’t count on the stable schedules that used to make the time away from home predictable. It may be awhile before that normalcy returns, if it ever does. The video story line raises the question of who would even want to work for American under such conditions. I’m not sure how shooing the kids away from the job helps things. Of course, I guess it’s supposed to scare management, right?

On the general aviation side, the pandemic has caused a crush of its own. The used turbine and jet market is getting crushed by demand caused by the marginal business travelers who’ve decided they’re done with terminals, the TSA and masks and will gladly pay more for a direct-to charter ride. A pilot I know who flies a Falcon doesn’t have the scheduling chaos the airline pilots face: He flies every day and has to turn down trips. This may be a kind of permanent change that won’t be dislodged until inflation gets checked and there’s the inevitable economic downturn.

Meanwhile, tension in the cabin hasn’t eased but has grown worse. We reported last week that two flights turned back after a passenger refused to adhere to the mask mandate. I feel the vague stirrings of sympathy for a person who doesn’t want to wear a mask. As I said in a blog a month ago, I don’t either. But if you board an airplane to make a point of it, you deserve the large fine coming your way.

I don’t know what latitude the airlines give Captains in deciding to carry on or divert the flight. I’m glad I don’t have to make the decision, but if I did, I don’t think I’d divert and inconvenience passengers. It’s simply not such an emergent situation, in my view, to require an unscheduled landing. Whoever the knucklehead causing the ruckus is will get the fine anyway. If the flight is diverted, the fine ought to be divvied up among the passengers for the trouble caused by one selfish, self-centered jerk.

Having dispensed with that bile and five or six weeks after my last consideration of this, I think it’s time for CDC to read the room. Masks had a place and, in my view, were demonstrably effective in a time of high prevalence. We’re very close to getting past that now and people are just tired of the mitigations. If I were King, I’d command mask optional for airliner cabins by March 1st.  

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  1. Second the motion! (even though the mask issue has caused our GA business to boom!)

    That’s a courageous call, Paul. Not many people in the public eye would stake out a position like that!

    But then, we are USED TO IT on AvWeb! (smile)

    • The willful avoidance by government to actually “follow the science” when it fails to fit the narrative that they push regarding the true risk and mortality rates especially involving children in order to capitalize on the opportunity to push trillions of dollars in spending to special interest groups who in return pass money back to them for campaigns and elections.

      • I’m honestly not sure if it’s a failure to “follow the science”, or a failure to explain the science. In either case, this pandemic has been mishandled by the government under both administrations which it has spanned.

    • So tired of hearing the over inflated fatality rate. Yes, 900,000+ have died with covid, helped along with co-morbidities like gunshot wounds, head trauma from automobile accidents, heart attacks, diabetes, etc. The average age of a covid death exceeded the average life expectancy and had 4+ comorbidities associated with that death, according to CDC. Fact is that everyone who came through the hospital doors was tested for covid, and the hospitals were monetarily incentivized by the gov’t for covid positive patients and fatalities. Once they were in the covid wards they were put on a death track of heavy sedation and Remdesivir. Once a breathing tube was shoved down your windpipe your odds of survival were reduced to about 20%. The only CDC sanctioned drug treatment, Remdesivir, was dubbed by hospital nurses as ‘run–death is near’ because after about 3 days it causes kidney damage. Many doctors have testified that 80% or more deaths could have been prevented with early treatment of steroids, HVQ, Ivermectin, and other drug protocols; but the CDC would not approve those treatments because big $$ were at stake for Pharma and the hospitals, and NIH which has a stake in the Moderna vaccine. A treatment course of Remdesivir in the hospital would cost around $3000, whereas an early treatment of ivermectin or HCQ which would keep you out of the hospital would run about $10. Of course, state public health officials forbade pharmacies from filling those prescriptions and the federal gov’t demonized those treatments as ‘dangerous’ or horse medicine, because the gov’t and big Pharma had an agenda to push vaccines. The corrupted study on HVQ was published in the Lancet medical journal but then had to be retracted after a little over a week when the data was examined. HVQ and Ivermectin are two of the safest drugs available, and are available in many countries over the counter. Educate yourself. If you want to find out what this whole covid mess was really about, read Robert Kennedy’s book and stop listening to the propaganda put out by the network and cable news. That’s the real ‘bullshit’ you refer to.

      • I agree that the USA response to a once-in-a-century pandemic has been tragically mis-handled. But let’s keep our comments in context and factual. For example: the system for collection of morbidity and mortality data should have moved from the city/county to the state and then to the federal public health offices. This effort failed. Thus we will never have a reliable basis for assessing the extent of the impact of Covid on public health. The FDA is ultimately responsible for approval of medicinal drugs and how/when used. Not the CDC. cDC recommends vaccine use policies and supports state and local immunization efforts. CDC does not regulate medical practices or vaccine use except in rare emergency situations. CDC does influence distribution of vaccines and offers guidelines.
        Throughout this pandemic, the health care delivery system has been remarkably free from government interference in the care and treatment of individual patients. Historically the federal, state and local governments stress public health programs and practices that protect the most vulnerable population groups. I cannot justify ignoring or disregarding public health tools that protect old, chronically ill, mentally challenged, non-citizens or other human beings because they are not productive or lack a green card/visa. In fact, I wear a mask, keep my distance, wash my hands, and take vaccines in order to protect others. For example, my co-pilot, passengers, and ground personnel.
        To end on a happy note. I’m deeply grateful to the Pharma-university-private foundation-NIH partnerships formed over the past two decades. This effort made it possible to produce the safe and effective vaccines now responsible for preventing/attenuating Covid disease. This was accomplished in spite of the I’ll-informed and anti-salubrious vax groups.

        • Your comments are not factual in that vaccines clearly do not prevent the spread or infection of COVID. We read every day about some vaccinated politician or Hollywood type that is vaccinated and boosted who are COVID positive and in many cases on their 2nd or 3rd COVID infection. You are half correct in that they do appear to lesson the severity of the virus which is a good thing. We also know that natural immunity developed following an infection is many times stronger and more effective than any current vaccine but the media and ideological educated hacks in government never want to mention that medical fact.

          • I invite you to look again at my comment. Note that I used the word “attenuate”. Clearly the vaccine also prevents the spread Covid by immunizing a significant portion of fully vaccinated persons and reducing the adverse effects and the
            duration of infectiousness of victims.
            Epidemic control depends on implementation of a number of intervention tools. Unfortunately the combination of an inability of public health providers to implement a coordinated effort and the resistance of ignorant/misinformed persons and groups have stymied effective response efforts where they exist. Your post suggests you are among the latter. You might also employ a bit less invective. Just saying.

      • Please when quoting “medical facts” you should first state what your qualifications are and where you trained. As a US trained MD and practicing physician, we look to evidence based decisions. Quote the studies that show that hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin is effective against COVID variants. Any medication has side effects, just some are worse than others.

        • Doctors don’t care about Covid. They don’t want you in their office, they don’t give the phony vaccine. When you call their office they ask what your symptoms are and the answer is, you might have Covid, go to the emergency room or critical care.
          When the government, who are not doctors unilaterally stops someone from getting a Medication, then the government is the problem.

      • In my previous comments, HVQ should be HCQ, hydroxychoroquine. References to CDC should be the FDA. The FDA promulgated treatment protocols through their task force, and Dr. Fauci, Director of NIAD (NIH) and head of the President’s task force, was trumpeting those recommendations. Most of the state governors and state public health directors fell in line with the FDA proscriptions (“ivermectin is horse medicine”) and prohibited the prescription of HCQ and IVM. Doctors’ medical licenses were threatened if they prescribed these medicines, and pharmacies were directed by their corporate overlords not to fill those prescriptions. I recommend a quick read of Dr. Waldman’s column in American Thinker: https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2022/02/washingtons_covid_scam_killed_medical_freedom_and_americans.html
        I sincerely hope none of you pilots who have gotten the jab(s) have no long term adverse health effects which threaten your medical. After 44 years of military and corporate flying, I have hung up my professional wings and now just maintain the Basic Med requirements. No more FAA medicals for me.

      • Dennis C – you 1000% nailed it. We know reported deaths are NOT accurate numbers. It’s all a scam and I actually say a money laundering scheme for the politicians who funnel money to the drug companies in exchange for campaign PAC’s, donations, and who the hell knows what else. Wake up people! The CDC has lied to us for the past two years! Masks do not work. It’s time for them to go bye-bye on commercial airliners…

  2. I am afraid aircraft will be the last places where masks are dropped. Covid cases rose in Germany but fell in France, some states in the US have high rates, some have low. Low rates in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand at the moment but you can be sure they will rise as they go into winter…
    And aircraft take people from one area to another, very fast. The Dutch are still traumatized at testing people in an A350 from South Africa at the start of the last wave — of 200 passengers 30 were positive and the country, which had the most liberal policy in Europe was forced into lockdown…

  3. Just another chirp — people have started carrying CO2 level detectors around with them — the are a good guide to when windows should be opened. They go off the scale in aircraft. All the talk of keeping the air fresh was bull. After all it puts up fuel consumption to do so.

  4. Since I have already expressed my feelings on mask wearing in the airplane I will comment more on Paul’s title of the article, “who wants to be an airline pilot anyway”. The issues that I have had to deal with when on overnight trips is spending extra time verifying what services hotels still have available in the past 2 years. Does that particular hotel still operate their restaurant? A lot of them shut down due to COVID restrictions then in the past year when those were lifted it was whether the hotels had the staff. How about transportation to and from the airport and hotel. Again a lot of places stopped shuttle service due to COVID restrictions. What about rental car availability. Not to long ago when some areas were lifting COVID restrictions last minute rental car availability was nil. Uber and other ride share outfits were unreliable. 2 years ago when I went to recurrent (delayed 3 months due to covid restrictions) my sim partner and I brought along with us food and microwave ovens because the usual hotel was closed and the one we used the restaurant was closed and the rooms did not supply microwaves. These are the little things most people don’t think about when expressing interest as a pilot, yet have to be addressed. As charter pilots, we don’t have the luxury of a pilot union to help out with these issues. So yes, I agree it is well past time to lift the mask mandate and any other COVID related restrictions.

  5. I have a Canadian friend that operates hunting and fishing camps. He has a number of cabins available for those that REALLY are serious about covid avoidance–they are 150 miles from the nearest road. (smile)

    Of course, the REASON they are empty is because of the lockdown of the Canadian border–it has nearly put down his once-thriving business. Of course, to make use of the cabins and to have absolute certainty that you won’t catch Covid, YOU have to figure out how to get into Canada to make use of them.

    Perhaps the Government will apply the same lack of concern for law on the NORTHERN border as they have in the SOUTHERN border–and AID your crossing. (sarcasm off)

    On the “positive” side–Covid fears have been a boon to General Aviation–airplane sales–pilot jobs–pilot training–fuel sales–maintenance sales. There’s always a positive (can we say that here?) side to every problem.

    May I suggest a new poll for AvWeb readers? “WHEN TRAVELING, WHAT DO YOU DO TO MITIGATE CONTRACTING COVID?”

  6. Unusual video using a passive-aggressive stance to guilt-trip American management into what, showing how we reveal the ineffectiveness of our union? You don’t see that every day.

    Regarding the short view of mask impatience in a deadly pandemic to the very long view of Job-like patience with magnetos, leaded fuel, carburetors, engines, FAA workings, et al., a disappointing new study revealed that every human being on earth at this moment is literally doing their very best.

    So, if that’s in mind, does anyone think we’ll handle the next war, virus, election, Elvis or alien attack any differently? Better? Worse? Leave your comments below.

    And, I would go along with King Paul I and agree with mask-optional on aircraft by decree on my son’s b-day, March 1.

  7. What an excellent headline question Paul! When you figure out the answer let me know. Never understood the attraction. I have a couple former instrument students who are regional captains and a smattering of friends across the industry. Nothing much any of them have to say about their day-to-day seems that attractive. Ok, the views are ofter great from their office (unlike mine!). And, well, the tricky approach well done is truly satisfying. There are bright spots, of course, but never really thought of it as an appealing career.

      • True enough, it can be pretty good for those fortunate enough to be at a reasonable carrier and with enough seniority to hold a line; reserve isn’t so bad as some carriers either.

        Depending on the economic cycle, ditch digging could be more remunerative than being a regional FO. Remember when Comair would let you pay to be a FO to get experience … anyway, I don’t think that the choice is ditch digging or airline pilot for most candidates. Although, I did know a guy who quit a regional in 2008(ish) and opened a garage door installation business. Happy man.

        Also, my original comment was somewhat tongue-in-cheek. I really do like your creative headline Paul!

  8. The COVID pandemic has overwhelmed and disrupted administrations worldwide. Political denigration of scientists has not helped keep a united community. Adding to the difficulty, COVID PTSD is here further fatiguing the population. As a 79 y/o still in love with all things in aviation, I understand all this. However, I’m willing to tolerate burdens, adapt, and stay focused on scientific solutions, the mitigating factors; vaccinations, masks, hygiene, distancing.

    “Taint no use to sit an’ whine,
    When the fish ain’t on yer line;
    Bait yer hook an’ keep a-tryin’—
        Keep a-goin’!”

      F. L. Stanton

    • What exactly is “COVID PTSD?” Is it caused by the endless daily news headlines trying to stoke fear into people? The happiest people I know are the ones who turned off the news during this pandemic. They realized what it was doing to them.

      • James, one of our relatives is going through what is being recognized as “Covid Fatigue” or “Covid PTSD”. I, as an old VN combat infantryman, identify with and recognize the implications.

        Individual Differences, Economic Stability, and Fear of Contagion as Risk Factors for PTSD Symptoms in the COVID-19 Emergency

        “Psychosocial Impact of COVID-19
        Although the psychological impact of COVID-19 pandemic has not yet been well-documented, based on previous experience with coronavirus infections (e.g., MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV), it has been hypothesized that the pandemic is leading to several health problems such as stress, anxiety, depressive symptoms, insomnia, denial, anger, and fear (Torales et al., 2020). In support of this, a study on the psychological impact of the COVID-19, found that more than half of the respondents reported a moderate-to-severe psychological impact, and approximately one-third reported moderate-to-severe anxiety during the initial phase of the outbreak in China (Wang et al., 2020a). Specifically, anxiety levels seem to be related to the fear for contagion of COVID-19, as assessed on an Iranian sample using a new validated self-report questionnaire (Ahorsu et al., 2020). Furthermore, a study on the psychological impact of the lockdown in Italy showed a high increase of distress levels associated to several factors including gender, personality traits, depression and anxiety levels (Mazza et al., 2020).”


  9. Raf–“However, I’m willing to tolerate burdens, adapt, and stay focused on scientific solutions, the mitigating factors; vaccinations, masks, hygiene, distancing.”

    Laudable goals–and something we should all aspire to! HOWEVER–every one of these issues has been shaky on the initial premise:
    Scientific solutions: The debate rages from “we have the solution” to “the so-called solutions haven’t worked.”
    Mitigating factors: We’ve experienced every one of them–and it hasn’t seemed to work to END Covid–(though it MAY mitigate transmission–there is not solid evidence of that.
    Vaccinations: Most of us eagerly got in line for the vaccinations–only to find that they were largely ineffective, and in some cases, CAUSED FURTHER ILLNESS. (See Johnson and Johnson).
    Masks: Perhaps the most controversial. Every proponent or opponent can find their own “scientific study” on masks–running from “if it allows air through, it is ineffective in stopping transmission” to “If you use it for more than 20 minutes, throw it away.” Are simple masks effective? “Your experience may vary.”
    Hygiene: Perhaps the least controversial of the issues–hand washing and surface cleaning don’t hurt, and likely will help.
    Distancing: Still controversial. Some say the “six feet” is rather arbitrary–some say that any exposure within an enclosed area (like an aircraft cabin) is a “sure way to catch it.” (Though I fly pressurized aircraft, I haven’t found that true–yet I wouldn’t board an airliner and sit next to someone–mask or not.)

    Part of the problem is LACK OF GOOD INFORMATION. Recall that days after the start of Covid in the U.S.–political charges of “mishandling” were already flying with Trump’s closing of flights from China–yet his opposition encouraged “Go to Chinatown–have a good time”–and then flip-flopped to “close classrooms, public transportation, wear masks, no large gatherings.” NONE of these were effective. Adding to the problem were competing “scientists”–often with contradicting “scientific proof.”

    I, like many corporate pilots, took a “middle of the road” view. I was vaccinated–a cleansed, I kept my distance, I avoided crowds, avoided eating out–yet I continued to fly flights in a relatively small cabin area–and had no problems. I’m more worried about “who stayed in my hotel room last night” than I am about who is occupying the cabin behind me. To my knowledge, nobody has contacted Covid on my flights.

    Give us better and more solid evidence, and I think that most people would gladly go along–but the need to act swiftly means “throw everything you’ve got against the wall, and we’ll see what sticks.” Influenza and Tuberculosis were also deadly–they took months and years to be eliminated–even without a highly mobile population. Most countries in the world are scaling back (see today’s headlines about the U.S.) W

    We’ve tried multiple “cures”–let’s have the option of seeing what “NORMALCY” looks like in the spread of disease.

    • Please when quoting “medical facts” you should first state what your qualifications are and where you trained. As a US trained MD and practicing physician, neither TB nor influenza has been eliminated. We are still seeing multi-drug resistant strains in the US. Also influenza has not been eliminated, we sill get vaccinations yearly. The reason the “normaL” influenza outbreaks have not been occurring has to do with masking, social distancing and hand washing.

      • Not so sure that masking, social distancing, and hand-washing is behind the historically low 2021 flu season. The literature I’ve seen attributes it to travel restrictions (human mobility is the key driver of flu in our modern era) and remote/virtual school (children shed much more flu virus than adults and shed it two or so days before showing symptoms; they are the locus of community spread). Probably will take a couple years of retrospective analysis to disentangle, but a rush to suggest that it is definitely masking, social distancing, and hand-washing, while a reasonable guess, is premature.

  10. ‘Part of the problem is LACK OF GOOD INFORMATION.”
    ‘Influenza and Tuberculosis were also deadly–they took months and years to be eliminated–’ ‘Good Information’ states neither have been.

    “Mitigating factors: We’ve experienced every one of them–and it hasn’t seemed to work to END Covid–” Because they’re mitigating factors, not cures.

    “Vaccinations: Most of us eagerly got in line for the vaccinations–only to find that they were largely ineffective,” Wrong. ‘Good Information’ shows they are largely effective for their intended purpose.

    “close classrooms, public transportation, wear masks, no large gatherings.” NONE of these were effective”. Wrong. Poor contact tracing hasn’t helped to show their effectiveness, but ‘Good Information’ can be had to show that initially, that was the way to go before the vaccine.

    “We’ve tried multiple “cures”–let’s have the option of seeing what “NORMALCY” looks like in the spread of disease.” Wrong. We haven’t tried any cures.
    And (I refuse to shout) “Normalcy” is a state or condition in constant flux and subject to interpretation, so adapt to change or don’t, but stop spreading this tired BS of misinformation. It insults the good people in hospitals everywhere working tirelessly for our welfare during this life-changing time. And that is ‘Good Advice”.

  11. Briefly on the virus, as my multi decade PHD virologist brother would say, “a virus doesn’t know or care that you’re tired of it”.

    What if your heart surgeon came in the OR without a mask and announced, “they’re uncomfortable and frankly I’m just tired of them”? Intelligent, good judgement or just crazy?

    Having spent the last 36 years at a major airline making the exact judgement calls Paul questions, I offer this;

    -There isn’t a crew in the sky as you read this that actually wants to divert. It’s a lot of extra work for ATC, the dispatcher, scheduling, flight attendants and pilots. We all hate it and work to avoid it.

    -When a flight attendant calls the cockpit to describe a situation, the Captain is reliant on what is being communicated over a crummy interphone. We are tasked with diagnosing the situation from behind a door. It’s not like we can open it, run 30 rows back and assess, “yep, that guy is a complete abusive jerk so we’re landing now” or “yeah, he’s just sort of a jerk and it’s probably ok to keep going”.

    -Flight attendants expect a modicum of cooperation. You can ignore their preflight briefings at your own peril (you might be on an airliner variant that was spec’d by a foreign carrier with an exit row nuance), but they do expect you to obey laws that are clearly stated and observable. A good Captain respects and encourages accurate information coming from his A or lead F/A. If your second language is profane and you direct it to the F/A, you might also unpleasantly discover that yelling at the Captain’s wife was a really regrettable move.

    – We are a nation of laws. We also have maritime laws and laws for aviation. If you can’t abide by them, you best avoid public conveyance by sea or air. I read comments about freedom and such, but the sky is not a democracy. The Captain (or general aviation PIC) is responsible not just for avoiding the inconvenience of any passenger, but for the ultimate safety of all passengers…AND CREW. He or she answers to that responsibility and their careers and good reputation ride on that conservative judgement. How many cabin fight videos do I need to show you that started out innocuously? Do I continue because one of my passengers thinks the “knucklehead” isn’t causing an “emergent situation” and let’s chance it because he doesn’t want to be inconvenienced? Or could this be an intentional distraction leading to something more sinister?

    Lastly, on the “if I were King”, as we zip back and forth in our 600 mph virus vectors, let’s all calm down and let good government and science make the call. Until then, just chill and be nice to your flight attendants. If you do divert, it’s because that Captain is trying to protect your life regardless of anything else in that moment.

  12. You’re talking about masks but here’s something VERY scary about the vaccinations they made everyone get:


    Sen. Ron Johnson in some sort of committee meeting talking with “experts” about the negative impact of the vaccines and the DOD hiding some of it, among other issues.

    • Larry, is this about Dr. Peter A. McCullough and COVID-19 misinformation?

      Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia.

      “Some of McCullough’s public statements contributed to the spread of COVID-19 misinformation. McCullough testified before a committee of the Texas Senate in March 2021, posted to YouTube by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, in which he made false claims about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines, including that people under 50 years of age and survivors do not need the vaccine and that there is no evidence of asymptomatic spread of COVID-19.” Wikipedia

      • Raf, your statement about Dr. McCollough and covid misinformation is misinformation. I thought everyone knew that Wikipedia has a left wing bias. Apparently not. Wikipedia is the last source I would go to for Dr. McCullough’s biography, or anyone’s biography for that matter who is involved in a controversial debate with political overtones. He is a world renowned heart/kidney specialist and has many peer reviewed publications.

      • Last year, because I summer west of Oshkosh, I went to a meeting with Sen. Ron Johnson on a matter of local interest. Here’s what I saw … likely one of the most down to earth and genuinely caring politicians I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. The video of him in a hearing on the vaccines isn’t BS. He’s questioning why the DOD is diddling their data to fit their needs. AND … there is question on the long term potential for harm if used by young people. HE isn’t saying it … if you watch that 17 min video, some mighty educated and in-tune people are saying it and HE wants answers. Fauci made everyone take the vaccine — or else — and then we find out that there are MANY folks who get the virus anyways. That’s what I know.

        • ” Fauci made everyone take the vaccine — or else — and then we find out that there are MANY folks who get the virus anyways. That’s what I know.”

          But there is so much more to know, Larry. I understand many people on this forum seem helpless and lost and feel are victims in a political game they are powerless to control concerning how our gubment, and institutions and medical groups are trying to handle a deadly and unseen enemy like the coronavirus. Integrating the knowledge gained from a moving target to a country politically divided and jejunely unprepared for such a sudden, profound challenge like a pandemic seems an impossible task to me. But I’m glad they’re trying.

          But Dr. Fauci is not the villain here – any more than a general would be in a war who mostly made good judgements to insure victory in the end from a wily, rapidly advancing enemy, but occasionally got one wrong along the way to that end .
          And Dr. Fauci can’t make anyone do anything in his position. C’mon.

          As far as Ron Johnson goes, with respect to your personal experience, there is much more to know about him than your brief encounter may have revealed. More research is needed to understand his viewpoints on the behavior of the virus, and possible ‘cures’ (mouthwash, etc.), the FBI and Jan 6 (“by and large…a peaceful protest”) and Trump supporters wearing Nazi slogans, including his extraordinary political naivete and disgusting pandering.

          Maybe he’s doing his best.

          • I tire of defenses of Fauci. He is part of a group of institutions that left this country unprepared, and then slowed the best responses. He was the lead of one of those organizations for many, many years.

            He told the “noble lie” on more than one occasion and to ill effect. The penalty for that is resignation while taking responsibility and apologizing while claiming good intentions which generally gets you forgiven by good people and sent back to academia or into retirement.

            I would like to think he’s a good man who has simply become what you get when a person is left in charge of a government institution for too long, but looking at facts now come to light it is not unfair to surmise that most of his decisions were colored by a need to cover up his possible part in the creation of the virus itself. Those who attack him are still attacked themselves even when the damning evidence builds and builds.

            Nope. He’s no Cuomo, but time will surely leave him with no better record even if a less salacious one.

    • So you’re sending us to a cannabis youtuber hosting video of a debunked Ron Johnson overseeing a not real Senate hearing with Doctors claiming we’re getting cancer from experimental vaccines? When in fact, the mRNA versions are fully approved and as safe as childhood vaccines and more efficacious than any vaccine to date? Worldwide, 10.3 billion doses of Covid (mRNA & vector) vaccines have been administered across 184 countries. The latest rate worldwide is up to 24.5 million doses given per day. 546 million doses have been given in the US alone. If they REALLY caused instant cancer, we probably would be breaking the doors down to get in to Johnson’s fake hearing. Facts matter; https://tinyurl.com/5n73r7wn

  13. This April will mark 28 years for me as a part 121 airline pilot. All 28 of those years with the same company even though it did change names as the result of a merger. In those years I have never been furloughed or missed a single paycheck. The worst thing that ever happened to me was getting bumped off the 757 as a first officer to the 737 for 22 months – certainly a first world problem. I flew during the height of the pandemic and continue to fly currently. I did encounter hotels without operating restaurants but I never failed to find delivery meal service a phone call or mouse click away. Essentially it was a non issue and in all cases less expensive than the hotel restaurant.

    American Airlines has been at war with its pilot group longer than we were at war with Afghanistan ! I certainly am not in the loop for what’s going on over there but am glad I don’t work there.

    I hate wearing masks but I know they work. I commute to and from work and as such was not only exposed at airports and hotels but also while riding in the passenger cabin for an airline that did not block off the middle seats (because they found people will actually BUY the middle seat). If I got COVID I sure didn’t know it and was tested quite frequently as well. Not only did I not get COVID I also I have not gotten a cold in these last two years either.

    • And now neither do the Democrats with all these blue state governors reversing course on mandates and restrictions. It’s just more evidence that this pandemic has been managed as a political opportunity and not a public health matter. It was never anything more than a virus that mostly impacted the elderly and those with certain comorbidities. Data from day one was never accurate and was used and manipulated for political purposes. Auto accidents involving COVID positive individuals added to the COVID fatality rates as an example. The Democrats are seeing their worst ever poll numbers and by the early fall Democrats will profess to never have heard of COVID. Now we know it was never a significant risk for 99.9% of children. I agree, time to move on and people around the world have had enough and ARE moving on whether the fools in government agree or not.

  14. A recent study by Johns Hopkins researchers: (yes, the same ones who suppressed information on recovery stats)

    It proves conclusively that none of the mitigation measures worked at reducing the spread of the disease. Well, OK, it helped .2%.

    So would you get into an aircraft with a .2% chance of not crashing?



      “Have you seen the so-called “Johns Hopkins study” that’s been making the social media and Bill Maher rounds lately? Some folks have been asserting that this “Johns Hopkins study” somehow showed that Covid-19 “lockdowns” have been essentially useless. If you haven’t seen what they’ve been referring to, could it possibly be because there’s been so-called “a full-on media blackout” of this so-called “Johns Hopkins study,” as an article for Fox News has claimed ? Or maybe, just maybe, this “Johns Hopkins study” didn’t receive much press because it wasn’t exactly what some people have been claiming that it is.

      If you’ve noticed, some have been repeating the name “Johns Hopkins study” as if it were some kind of magical phrase like “open sesame” or “MMMbop.” In actuality, it’s not really appropriate here to call what’s being circulated a “Johns Hopkins study,” which might suggest that Johns Hopkins University has somehow commissioned or endorsed the study. Nevertheless, some people and social media accounts have been pushing the whole Johns Hopkins name: …”

  15. Paul, I love ya’, man. I read everything you write, and generally agree with you or learn something from you.

    However, I suspect that the lowest petri-dish scrubber at the CDC knows ‘way more about this pandemic than do you and 99% of the posters to an AVIATION-related forum. Hell, I suspect _I_ know more about it than you do, and I’m a retired computer geek (whose wife has a PhD. in immunology).

    Masks are the barely-socially-acceptable G-strings of epidemiological modesty for which there was a scintilla of a chance of mandating. Nothing more. Apparently, someone decided it was too expensive to modify aircraft seats with fittings for SCUBA regulators. So airliners remain disease vectors, as they always were. It’s just that this disease is far more deadly than the winter flu.

    We are wrestling an alligator, folks. Every time it stops writhing, and we say “Hah! I got you now, I’m moving on”, it bites off another piece of our anatomy. The patience to play the long game is not an American trait, but that’s exactly what it will take to win it.

    • “However, I suspect that the lowest petri-dish scrubber at the CDC knows ‘way more about this pandemic than do you and 99% of the posters to an AVIATION-related forum.”

      The CDC has statutory authority but it is not absolute. And anyone who thinks it isn’t swayed by politics to a degree is delusional. It cannot operate by diktat. It has to have buy-in from the people it’s assigned to protect. Public health agencies have generally done a good job, but they have made mistakes, missteps and engaged in confusing messaging. People who are subject to its policies are not required to blindly accept their rationale just because they claim to know more. All of us have a right to question those policies and at some point–we are very near that–make risk decisions based on our own values. That was not the case during the high prevalence of a year ago. What data is available is subject to interpretation and risk assessment, not just by policy makers, but individuals, too.

      Infections and hospitalizations are trending sharply downward and if mitigations of questionable efficacy are forced to remain in place, there will be a revolt. We’re just beginning to see that now, although polls continue to support mitigations by a slim majority. CDC could help its cause with more transparent policy reasoning and actual data on why they think masks on airplanes are still required.

    • If the Covid vaccine would have gone through the normal required testing, and failed at the present breakthrough rate, would they have ever been approved for use. I don’t think so.
      The number of people that have had Covid and did not report it is a huge number, many of them being vaccinated.

  16. Sorry, cannot resist. First, Raf, Thank you.
    For those who decry all the measures taken against COVID as poor science, politically motivated, etc., I am not surprised by this as I expect most of you are not scientists, epidemiologists, or otherwise have any particular expertise regarding the subject. There is this observation that I believe is attributed to George Burns; “Too bad that all of the people who know how to run the country are busy driving taxi cabs and cutting hair…”.

    I am surprised, however, that as pilots we are not seeing the basic elements of risk management, that we all are taught, mentioned regarding COVID mitigations. You know, the slices of Swiss cheese, where each slice on its own has holes, but when they are stacked alongside of each other, hopefully prevent a straight shot through to a bad outcome. None of hand washing, coughing into one’s sleeve, masking, vaccination, social distancing, and the like prevents COVID transmission on its own. But like the Swiss cheese, taken together, they reduce the odds of a bad outcome.

    These measures, even taken together, are not perfect, and to complain because they are not so is simply childish. If I am ever unfortunate enough to undergo surgery, I’ll be glad that it will be in a suite with great air filtration and by a surgical staff that is gowned, gloved, scrubbed, masked, and that the instruments are sterile.

    I too am tired of dealing with COVID, and what makes it even more tiring is the incessant whining about the relatively simple steps we are being asked to take. We’re not in London during the blitz, nor in Bosnia in the ’90’s. And the arguments that all these measures impinge personal freedom is akin to a pilot doing aerobatics in a Cherokee just because it is fun, without regard to passengers or innocents on the ground.

    OK, I agree, enough.

    • Yes, let’s all listen to the educated fools. We should have followed the advice of Dr Fauci when early in the pandemic he said no mask should be worn, then wear a mask and avoid restaurants but feel free to engage in one night stands with strangers. I’ll put common sense up against educated, ideological idiots any day but you of course are free to follow the “science”. Best of luck.

      • Did Fauci say not to wear masks?

        “Trump claimed that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, made a mistake by advising people not to wear masks.
        “I get along very well with Anthony,” Trump said. “But he did say, ‘Don’t wear masks.’ He did say, as you know, “This is not going to be a problem.” 
        Trump also said, “But Anthony said, “Don’t wear masks.” Now he wants to wear masks. Anthony also said, if you look back, exact words, here’s his exact words: “This is no problem. This is going to go away soon.” So he’s allowed to make mistakes. He happens to be a good person.’”

        This needs context

        While Fauci, along with several other US health leaders, initially advised people not to wear masks, Fauci later said that he was concerned that there wouldn’t be enough protective equipment for health care workers. This was also early in the pandemic before public health experts fully knew how contagious the disease was and how it spread.
        Fauci explained that at that time, “we were not aware that 40 to 45% of people were asymptomatic, nor were we aware that a substantial proportion of people who get infected get infected from people who are without symptoms. That makes it overwhelmingly important for everyone to wear a mask.”  
        “So when people say, ‘Well, why did you change your stance? And why are you emphasizing masks so much now when back then you didn’t — and in fact, you even said you shouldn’t because there was a shortage of masks?’ Well, the data now is very, very clear,” he said.    
        “We need to put that nonsense behind us about ‘well, they keep changing their minds,’ ” Fauci said.    

        As to Fauci’s other comments, while he occasionally sought to reassure Americans in the very early days of the virus, he consistently advised to follow CDC guidelines and that things could change.” CNN

        • Seriously? Politifact?

          Just like the others, this is a Cronkite scam without the hard work. You claim objectivity, play the part of the fair observer for a while, and then start taking advantage to do what you really wanted to do which is to change the world, not report facts.

          Cronkite worked for years to establish his reputation, and then was very clever about putting his thumb on the scale. The modern fact check sites tried to really do the job for only months rather than years and now twist anything to push the agenda they were trying to push as journalists already.

  17. I do not mean this as a criticism. The management and employees are in a difficult position and policies and practices are interpreted by thousands of people. Dealing with the mask issue is a difficult task. I have been flying airlines for long flights, typically 8 flight segments per month. 3/4 Delta, 1/4 American. I see more issues on American. Actually, no issues on Delta over masking. Airlines executives have testified before congress to end masking mandate on one hand but American seems to be much more rigorous on enforcement. On an American flight from CLT to MDT I took a bite of a soft pretzel (the first food I had all day and tight connection) during taxi and was told by the FA that she could have me arrested (Ouch) because I had to pull my mask back up to chew. I said that I had never been forced to do this on any other flights. She barked that other FAs were not doing their jobs but she was doing hers. I said nothing. On a 5 hr American flight in First Class a woman sitting across the aisle from me had been warned to keep her mask up after drinking. At one point the FA said, this is the 3rd time I have warned you, I can make sure you never fly American again.

    Customers and employees of American are in a difficult position from all of the varying perspectives. I don’t have a suggested solution nor do I fully understand all of the differing perspectives. I just have my observations.

  18. I have dealt with COVID masking as being a basically unnecessary, yet unavoidable, annoyance best dealt with through a go along to get along approach; I carry a mask in my pocket and put it on where required or in situations where it seems needed to reassure those around me. Fortunately, I am not stuck with work or travel situations wherein wearing one for hours on end is mandated. Therefore, for me the masking part hasn’t been all that bad, but it’s definitely time to rachet it down. And indeed, the politicians do seem to realize they’ve pushed the population to the brink of outright revolt and are starting to embrace new science, so to speak. Nothing is forever except death & taxes.

  19. We should have never worn masks, period. There is no scientific proof that masks mitigated any covid cases. At the beginning of this mess I read the side of the surgical mask box. It said clearly that the mask would NOT protect against the coronavirus! The CDC has come out recently saying that cloth masks DO NOT WORK, yet the airlines are ok with handing out cloth masks to their passengers.. I looked at a new box of surgical masks last week and it only says that will protect against bacterial infections. Last time I checked covid was a VIRUS. And if you haven’t noticed masks seem to be for the peasants not the elites. Also read an article that stated that airline crews had a 79% lower infection rate. HMMM are they the only workers that were wearing masks. I am guessing that the airflow and HEPA filters in the aircraft were responsible not masks. Having just retired from 42 years of airline flying I can tell you that most of my pilot friends were not wearing masks in the cockpit either.

    • You sir should stop using common sense and you are to be reprimanded for making such statements as you are not a M.D. or Ph.D in the field of virology. As a simple minded airline pilot you know not what you speak (said with eyes rolling after reading a number of posts in this forum)!

  20. Three years until mandatory retirement at what is soon to be the nations 5th largest 121 carrier. Prior to Covid (in and odd, but fortunately well-timed) a cooperative effort between our ALPA Safety team was met with a serious and committed effort with our managements Safety Department regarding Fume Events caused by tricresyl phosphate-containing engine lubricants leaking past various seals. Fume Events.

    This resulted in a well timed installment of HEPA filters fleet-wide.

    • Anyway, I haven’t heard complaints of Fume Events since before March of 2020 with the entailing mask requirements and HEPA filters installed.

      Sadly, by March of 2021 I considered myself an “Ace”. By then, I had five passengers removed for failure to comply with crew member safety instructions. All five removals began with a request for compliance with the mask directive by a flight attendant and quickly escalated into emotional outbursts that made it obvious that the use of “defusing verbal techniques” were not working.

      The F Bomb.

      My personal red flag that the offending passenger is escalating loss of control to Level 2, or willing to, physically harm others is dropping the F Bomb either at or to my crew. With the ensuing aggressive physical histrionics that accompanies a loss of emotional control. I also cut off all alcohol sales, with the excuse we were not catered and this is not directed at the one almost out of control passenger, which of course it is.

      Drop the F Bomb with anger and in a threatening manner at my FA’s and you are going to have a bad day.

      I consider this a (in context) second level threat, and the decision in our guidance is clear.

      I will further add, that a gate return is a no brainer and an easy call prior to take off. If airborne southbound, between KMIA and MUFA, the decision to air return isn’t so bad either; return to base while still talking to MIA CTR.

      However, I do find myself looking forward to passing the ETP between Kingston and Barranquilla or Cartegena. We are mission oriented to get to our destinations, and I’ve learned through experience, an unplanned arrival to Jamaica will not let uninvolved crew and passengers out of the aircraft, or secure area, and through customs without a hotel/motel destination confirmed; if you are after hours and need fuel.

      Regarding in flight mask non compliance I always suggest to the Lead FA, a technique I learned as an MP. Change the FA dealing with the disruptive passenger if possible. Try again at defusing and encouraging compliance with a new FA that’s not emotionally involved with the jerk or jerkess.

      Finally, relish it when landing and upon disembarking your disruptive passengers(s), to a country that does not delineate or concern themselves with Tik Tock, YouTube, or Analgram. US constitutional rights that don’t apply in anywhere but the US seems to come as a shocker.

      Seems La Policia in Colombia, Lima, Panama, Costa Rica, San Salvador, Honduras, and Mexico all wear state issued olive drab, with what looks to me as a the latest version of the M-16 fully loaded. Exception Guatamala, with really cool all black uniforms with bloused boots.

      If you discretely glance around customs in Medellin, you will find the prison guard “Hamidou” (Midnight Express raper), has transferred from Turkey to Colombia, and he doesn’t return friendly gringo smiles.

      The disruptive person usually explains, ” You can’t do that to me! You don’t know who the F I am!”. Which generally results in that knee on the neck thing ( I love that part) , handcuffs and the first glimmer of “maybe I should have just worn a crappy political statement cotton mask and kept my mouth shut”. As they are dragged off to that room in the back offices of a non-US customs facility.

      Watching that is a Viagra Moment without the pharmaceutical, I cover myself with release paperwork,back my way on to the flight deck, ask the FO to do the walk around (not the reach around pervs!) and God Bless the Airbus tray table for both cover and concealment, while I recite NEO start cycle minimums. Biggest D downer I know of. So many unforeseen uses. Love that tray table.

  21. Where are the Air Marshals on these flights. Cost to much to the stock holders? The airline employees are not there to subdue cray passengers. The crazy should be arrested on the spot and taken to a secure place on the airplane. That might take up a seat or two, lost money to the share holders.
    If a mask is required for the flight, wear a mask. If you don’t like to wear a mask, drive.

    • I’m limited in what I can say, but as a former FFDO, the FAM’s are the best. If you’ve done enough to cause a FAM to break cover, you definitely are not going to enjoy the encounter. I can’t legally add what I want, but just know that FAM’s are highly trained and represent tax dollars well spent.

  22. I think that Federal Air Marshalls should be on each flight. Maybe a uniform cop also so the FAM don’t have to break cover.
    I have read that about 5% of flights have FAM s on flights. Pay more, get more.
    The crazy’s remind me of when I was in the Army and used the Greyhound to get home for a 3 day.

  23. Read today that if you count losses of life years rather than just deaths, the government response has been more deadly to men than the virus. Other way round for women, but the excessive deaths were mostly avoidable, and hindsight shows that we should have seen it.

    Apparently, the fallout from excessive money thrown at people has resulted in an EASILY PREDICTABLE number of deaths due to alcohol and drug abuse. Using data available when Congress decided to use the pandemic as a vote buying opportunity, the well known model would have predicted exactly what happened.

    I’ve been stating here for most of the mask arguments that I’m not going to let them distract me from real priorities, and I really, really hope more of you guys can do the same. We have a strong possibility of heading into a recession while in an inflationary environment. At the same time, we seem to be having no intentions of cleaning house in Washington or anywhere else. If the Fed, which refused to see we were heading the way we are, cannot walk a tightrope while idiots in DC try to knock them off with new policies designed to make things worse, it’s going to be a lot like the previous 20’s including food shortages.

    We won’t have a pilot shortage. The layoffs will return instead. My biases blame all this on intrusive central planning and lack of real leadership all around. I’m sure others disagree, and that many have other reasonable theories. I just hope we can stop playing so many word games, and get to trying to solve the serious problems as if they actually are the matters of life and death they are.

  24. “Drop the F Bomb with anger and in a threatening manner at my FA’s and you are going to have a bad day”.I retired fifteen years ago and the total contents of your note made my day. I enjoyed reading your description of the outfits worn by the gate greeters at some of the outlying stations. Thanks for backing your FA’s, they have a tough job under the circumstances.

  25. Airline pilot has been a crappy job long before COVID. The MBA bean counters took an axe to the airlines after 9/11 and ruined the industry for both the passengers and the employees. It is sadly, another example of what happens when the C Suite only care about their bonuses and they know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

    Ironically the only good news is that the ATPL requirement for Part 121 carriers forced the airlines to offer a living wage to new hires and the penalties for delayed/cancelled flights restored some schedule sanity.
    Both initiatives only happened because of government intervention….

    Bottom line the glory days of being an airline pilot are long gone. You are now just a button pushing employe number expected to do what dispatch and flight ops tells you with no input from you expected or desired

    Pretty much every senior airline pilot I know can’t wait to retire.

  26. Hi Paul,
    You sure know how to get the gang fired up. I think you are on the right track though. March seems a little early so I vote for June. The latest surge and resulting Covid death rate should be way down and summer travel will be picking up. But what do I know, I’m just a pilot, not a medical expert. My observation is that younger airline pilots seem to handle the schedule changes and accommodations pretty well. Older ones, less so. My view, is airline pilots should suck it up, they have a good job, are well paid, and good benefits. A whole lot of other Americans don’t.

  27. The only way to get a paycheck is to work for a company that actually makes a profit. Airlines can be lining up to buy airliners with glowing reports of airline manufacturers having several years of backlogs as a testimony to airline financial health along with airline growth expectations. Throw in Covid 19, weather disasters, union unrest, civil disobedience, an oil war or embargo, and lack of qualified help both on the ground and in the air among other things, and the bankruptcy courts are filled with overnight filings. The legacy carriers are continually on the brink of financial ruin with mergers the normal way of dealing with a poor bottom line or their hand out from the taxpayer via the govmit.. Low fare airlines come and go with the ebb and flow of daily events that one day packs an airliner with another day flying empty due to reposition needs, another stage of the pandemic, or whoever ends up in the White House. Not a lot of job security for anyone in aviation as it is the first to face the affects of all of the above. Add in the FAA whose mantra they are only happy when aviation is not, stir, and you have a stew that fewer and fewer people want to sample. I love aviation, airplanes, and flying. But to participate in aviation, including GA, I have to make my living outside of it. Depending on aviation for a paycheck is not a way that affords staying in it.