When it launched in 2017, I was only vaguely aware of an ITV video series called “In The Cockpit.” It’s still available on YouTube and this week’s Best of the Web links to one of the most engaging episodes. The series itself highlights EasyJet, a rapid-growth, U.K.-based budget airline. There is no better glimpse of how airline operations work and the videos are crisply and stylishly edited in a way the Brits seem so good at.
The series has a tilt toward new hires and even though women make up only about 10 percent of the EasyJet pilot workforce, many women are featured in the series because many of the new hires are women. The series is not particularly strident about this, but simply shows all the rookie pilots on the job, including the women. None are more impressive than Captain Emma Henderson, who appears in this segment. She’s exemplary not just for her command ability, but also for her humanity. You won’t find a better pilot role model, woman or man.
I picked this episode because it highlights rookie First Officer Stephanie Burn’s first revenue flight and first landing with passengers aboard. That segment begins at 37:00 in the video and I never tire of watching it. For instructors, a nice takeaway is training captain Simon White’s calm demeanor. When FO Burn asks if she is to fly manually and land, White says, “Yeah, of course” with such upbeat confidence that it’s infectious. After that, his sugar calls are few and subtle.
After Burn nails the landing, her relief and joy is priceless. I clipped it for the video poster frame. Her look personifies that feeling we’ve all had when the checkride is over and we passed. And then, unmistakably, the little kid escapes the steely-eyed game face for just a second or two. She paid hard dues to get there.
Like all airlines, EasyJet has fallen on hard times so it’s very likely Ms. Burn is furloughed. Captain Henderson voluntarily furloughed and is running a charity to help Britain’s beleaguered U.K. National Health Service workers. As of early August, EasyJet is flying just 60 percent of its pre-pandemic passenger volume. Here’s hoping Burn and Henderson get back in the cockpit soon.