Pilots become faint, make emergency landing

A British Airways jet had taken off from Heathrow Airport and was climbing at 20,000 feet when the pilot and the co-pilot—both of whom were female—felt light-headed, dizzy, and unwell at the same time and feared they were going to pass out. They called for help from the crew and put on oxygen masks, then turned the plane around and made an emergency landing back at Heathrow. The story is at the Daily Mail.

I suppose there have been female airline pilots for many years, though offhand I don’t remember ever hearing of one. I sure never heard of an airliner in which both the pilot and the co-pilot were women.

- end of initial entry -


Malcolm Pollack writes:

Here’s one: Candi Kubeck

LA replies:

Wouldn’t you feel secure and safe being a passenger in a tube of metal flying 20,000 feet up in the air piloted by someone named Candi?

Now I’ve looked at the Wikipedia article. I didn’t know the pilot of the Valujet plane that horribly crashed in a swamp in 1996 was a woman.

Ironically, at the time, I said the same thing about the name of that company that I just said about her name: how could any sane person put himself in a tube of metal flying 20,000 feet over the earth that goes by the name ValuJet? How about Econojet? Or FlyByNight? How about Cheapo Airline?

ValuJet Flight 592, piloted by Candi. A Darwin Award waiting to happen.

January 10

Doug H. writes:

There have been women pilots since WWII. They flew transports in the 1970s until they were allowed fighter seat in the 1980s (fighter seat is a role as a combat fighter pilot.).

In WWII, they delivered planes from the U.S. factories to home bases. This was often preached to me throughout my Air Force career.

LA replies:

I know of course that there have been woman pilots, I just never heard of a woman airliner pilot, though, now that I think of it, there must be many.

JC in Houston writes:

I have to disagree with you here re the Darwin award. Kubek was not responsible for the crash of ValuJet Flight 592. The maintenance contractor, in violation of regulations, loaded improperly secured oxygen generators on the flight, which then ignited probably on takeoff. The ignition resulted in a fierce fire in the cargo hold which destroyed flight controls and brought the plane down. You’re right about Valujet though. Their fleet was grounded after investigations revealed shoddy maintenance and corner cutting. They are now AirTran Airways.

Ferg writes:

One other aspect of this incident is that the airplane was an Airbus, the worlds first computer controlled airliner. I would not fly in one, short of an emergency.

Malcolm Pollack writes:

In all fairness, I have no reason to assume she was an incompetent pilot. (She was apparently a lifelong aviatrix, and had received some award or other along the way, whatever that’s worth.) The plane was improperly freighted with “oxygen generators,” and caught fire in midair.

I think ValuJet was trying to squeeze a little too much Valu out of their Jet. God knows I’d have had serious qualms about flying with a company calling itself that. (Perhaps I should have said I’d have had “reservations.”..)

James P. writes:

You do know that ValuJet 592 did not crash because of anything the pilot did, and that a male pilot could not have saved the aircraft? The fire started in the cargo compartment and overwhelmed the plane before she could get it back on the ground.

Rick Darby writes:

The ValuJet 592 accident resulted from a fire in the cargo hold caused by chemical oxygen generators that had been improperly packaged by a company called SabreTech. Captain Kubeck could not have known about the fire beforehand or prevented it. She and the first officer did the only thing possible and tried to return the airplane to the Miami airport, but the fire destroyed its control systems.

I was on a British Airways flight to London a few years ago and was surprised to hear the woman captain greeting us before departure.

Would I be a little nervous if both the captain and first officer were women? Yes, but not because women can’t be good pilots. The skills needed are entirely cognitive and interactive. My worry would be that one or both had benefited from unofficial affirmative action (legally, all pilots must meet the same standards).

LA writes:

I did not say or intend to say that Candi Kubeck was responsible for the crash. I was commenting on the lack of seriousness in our culture, as expressed by an airline pilot named “Candi” and by an airline company named “Valujet.” I said that these things indicate a lightness, an excessive casualness, a quality of self-indulgence, that does not mix with the serious business of flying people in metal tubes 20,000 feet above the earth. An airliner pilot named “Candi” is a bad sign. It shows something is amiss. I would not choose to fly in a plane piloted by “Candi.” That did not mean that Candi Kubeck was responsible for the crash.

LA continues:

And to clear up another inevitable misunderstanding: this is not intended as a criticism of people nicknamed Candi or Candy or as saying that they shouldn’t have that nickname. But when the pilot of an airliner is named “Candi,” our instincts, our common sense, should tell us that something is off.

David H. in Oregon writes:

It is better to turn back too soon rather than too late. This became apparent to me when I lost an exhaust valve in my Thorp T-18 (a small homebuilt airplane), resulting in total engine failure. Some women have been very capable in aviation. We can recall Jacqueline Cochran and Betty Skelton in her biplane “Li’l Stinker.”

Laura Wood writes:

Let’s say you had a load of cargo that needed to be driven across country. Who would you prefer to do it, a man or a woman? I think most people, knowing the differences between male and female drivers and that men handle machinery and navigation much better than women, would answer that they would prefer a man. The vast majority of people, if they were honest with themselves, would probably say they prefer male pilots too, and for good reason.

It is well established that men have superior mechanical ability and spatial skills. Are these not still involved in flying a plane? Men also handle stress better and are less distracted by interpersonal concerns. Finally, a woman pilot is much more likely to have an exhausting work life if she has a family and that could affect her job performance.

Laura continues:

Rick Darby said he is not so much concerned about the possibility of a woman pilot as the likelihood that a woman pilot would be the beneficiary of affirmative action.

To add to his point, there could be no such thing as a society that accepted women as commercial pilots that did not in someway make them the beneficiaries of lower standards.

Once airlines decide to devote costly and limited resources to training women to be commercial pilots, despite the huge disincentives and costs of doing so given that women always have a high drop out rate in any very demanding career, it has already lost its judgment regarding the qualifications of women for such jobs. So whether there are explicit affirmative actions policies or not, a society with women pilots has necessarily put aside, to some degree, safety and prudence for political concerns.

Jeannette V. writes:

My husband is a retired master mechanic in the Air Force. He told me that the dirty little secret was that woman pilots were four times more likely to crash then men. Now this was 20 years ago. I see no reason why this might be different. He claims no one really knew what the reason was. He also said woman make very good co-pilots, better than men, because of their high tolerance for tedium and the ability to multitask. The problem with women as pilots is when something goes wrong women tend to think and men react. He said the worse crash he witnessed was when a woman flight instructor was teaching a woman pilot to land when something went wrong during landing. She hesitated then gave the wrong commands. Everyone died in that crash.

He is strongly against woman fighter pilots, the planes aren’t designed for women. There is no way around the “indoor” plumbing. Not to mention she simply is not physically strong enough to withstand the G forces. She will pass out before a man.

Of course there is also the problem of intuitive fighting; women don’t seem to have it.

James P. writes:

Laura notes:

There could be no such thing as a society that accepted women as commercial pilots that did not in some way make them the beneficiaries of lower standards.

This is of course also true of military pilots—there could be no such thing as a military service that accepted women as pilots (or indeed, in any capacity) that did not in some way make them the beneficiaries of lower standards.

She continues:

Once airlines decide to devote costly and limited resources to training women to be commercial pilots, despite the huge disincentives and costs of doing so given that women always have a high drop out rate in any very demanding career, it has already lost its judgment regarding the qualifications of women for such jobs.

I am fairly sure that airlines do not train pilots. Pilots either receive their training in the military or pay to attend commercial flying schools (an expensive proposition).

Laura replies:

Regardless of where pilots are trained to fly, someone is investing heavily in their training and that investment likely will not be returned at the same rate at which it is with men. And even when a pilot comes fully trained, airlines invest in vetting them and preparing them for their own specific procedures.

Laura continues:

Furthermore, and this is the most important point of all, a society that encourages women to become commercial pilots will necessarily devalue what most women do well and seriously disregard the interests of the young.

Rick Darby writes:

Ferg wrote:

One other aspect of this incident is that the airplane was an Airbus, the worlds first computer controlled airliner. I would not fly in one, short of an emergency.

All modern airliners and business jets are flown with the aid of flight management computers and “fly by wire” systems (in which control inputs are transmitted electronically to the control surfaces such as flaps and rudder). But the pilots are still in charge. They program the computers; they can re-program the computers; they can always disconnect the autopilot and “hand fly” the airplane if they believe there is a reason to.

Airbus does have a somewhat different philosophy about automation than other manufacturers, with a built-in “protection envelope” in the computer architecture designed to override any dangerous mistaken pilot inputs that would place the aircraft in a thrust/attitude condition leading to a stall. While there are differing views as to the desirability of this feature, it comes into play extremely rarely. In normal flight it is a non-issue. Finally, pilots value their lives as much as anyone else and thousands of professional pilots are happy flying Airbus models.

James P. wrote:

I am fairly sure that airlines do not train pilots. Pilots either receive their training in the military or pay to attend commercial flying schools (an expensive proposition).

Correct. Most pilots must pay for their own initial training leading to a commercial pilot license and accrue flight hours working for regional carriers. The major airlines recruit many of their pilots from the regionals. A growing pilot shortage is a serious concern in the industry. The military turns out far fewer trained pilots than they used to. Piloting for short-haul airlines pays poorly, is stressful, and has zero glamour; as a result of this—and also because it takes a long time before piloting becomes financially rewarding—the profession attracts fewer young people.

Ken H. writes:

I find the comments in this post fascinating. Appeals are made to intuition (“Who would you prefer to drive a cargo across the country?”) and third-hand secret Air Force data. No one bothered to look up any of the studies which have been done. In a matter of minutes, I found several. None of the studies found that men were safer pilots. If anything, they have more accidents, but that may not be statistically significant.

Also, Ferg is nervous about flying in “the world’s first computer controlled airliner” (the A320 Airbus). Many people were unsure of that when the A320 first took to the air. But that was 24 years ago! There are over 4,700 of the A320-family aircraft in service. It has an extremely admirable safety record.

Here are the key points from studies I found

Commercial aviation:

Comparing pilot-error accident rates of male and female airline pilots” (1996)

“After adjusting for variables included in the model, accident rates of males and females were not significantly different.”

General and commercial aviation:

Factors associated with pilot error in aviation crashes” (2001):

“Neither pilot age nor gender was independently associated with the odds of pilot error.”

General aviation.

Pilot-error accidents: male vs female” (1986):

“Males had a higher rate of accidents than females, and a higher portion of the male accidents resulted in fatalities or serious injuries than for females.”

Impact of gender, age and experience of pilots on general aviation accidents” (2011):

“There is no evidence from the Chi-square tests and logistic regression models that support the likelihood of an accident caused by pilot error to be related to pilot gender. However, evidence is found that male pilots, those older than 60 years of age, and with more experience, are more likely to be involved in a fatal accident.”

LA replies:

Thanks to Ken H. for doing this research. He’s brought out points that require a response. But the first question that occurs to me is: if there were studies showing that women pilots had more accidents than men pilots, would such studies ever see the light of day?

Rhona N. writes:

Your point that studies showing women’s underperformance as pilots have probably been suppressed is well taken. I have often wondered if anyone has done a study of female versus male police officers with regard to numbers of arrests, types of arrests, dealing with violent situations, etc. The information is out there, no doubt, but no one has compiled the numbers. Speaking of affecting public safety! In some police forces the percentage of female officers is in the high double digits. As a resident of New York City, I am often appalled at the apparent low quality of female police officers. Some of them look as if their only concern is their manicures and hairdos. Needless to say, it’s a tremendous waste of the taxpayers’ dollars, not to say a danger to the safety of the public. (Of course, the military is in a similar jam!)

Doug H. writes:

The Air Force studies g force on pilots. All their studies have shown women do pretty well mostly due to smaller size. The better fighter pilots deal with g load, the more capable they become at flying aircraft through the full flight envelop taking advantage of the greater speed and agility our platforms possess.

I haven’t seen any studies since the 1990s, but you always have to read military prepared studies with suspicion. The military is very PC, and their studies tend to reflect this. Case in point: The Air Force Times is very liberal. They fired their last conservative columnist sometime during the mid 1990s.

Patrick H. writes:

I suspect that the differences between male and female pilots are rather like the differences in mathematical ability between men and women. Not much at the average, but huge differences as you move up the scale of proficiency, with almost all the really capable pilots (mathematicians) being men. I am sceptical therefore of the claim that female pilots have fewer accidents than male pilots. It’s true that if they fly the way they drive, they are almost certainly more cautious and therefore less likely to get into accidents. But I would be more interested in studies that looked at the effectiveness of pilot response in extreme situations. So the question about who you would rather have flying your plane would need to be qualified. On routine flights, either sex will do. In extreme situations: Who would you rather have flying your fighter aircraft? Who would you rather have flying your passenger plane in a severe storm? Who would you rather have pilot your engine-less aircraft to a landing on a river? A man every time.

I admit that I have no studies to back me on this, but then again perhaps they’ve not been done. I do know that I, and I suspect many others, would much rather have a man pilot in the three extreme situations I asked about. Women can manage in day to day routine situations. But they fall apart in crises. I look to men for leadership and skill in crisis, and I see nothing in the studies to make me think I’m wrong.

My rough rule of thumb about questions like this is: the stereotypes about men and women are almost all true. Especially the ones that upset feminists. Stick to your prejudices and you’ll be right far more often than wrong, including in situations where your life depends on being right.

LA replies:

Great observation.

My experience is that women have substantially less spacial intelligence than men, even in the average range. Women are not oriented spacially as much as men, and they are not oriented toward equipment and machines as much as men. Furthermore, flying an airliner is not an “average” activity. So how could women pilot planes as well as men? If women pilots overall don’t have more accidents than male pilots, it would be because the relatively small number of women who become pilots are outliers.

Ferg writes:

Ken H. says:

Also, Ferg is nervous about flying in “the world’s first computer controlled airliner” (the A320 Airbus). Many people were unsure of that when the A320 first took to the air. But that was 24 years ago!

There are over 4,700 of the A320-family aircraft in service. It has an extremely admirable safety record.

While I am aware of how long they have been around and that they have a fairly good record, as a pilot I have a problem with them. The pilots in all but the very earliest Airbus aircraft are no more than passengers. The control stick, throttles, and rudders do not input to the aircraft controls, they input to the computer. Nothing the pilots can do can over ride the limits the software sets. Thus, when geese wiped out the engine sensors on Sully’s airplane the computer rolled the engines back to idle and there was nothing Sully could do to call on the power he had available and that would have allowed him to make the closest airport. I have this straight from a Northwest Airlines (Now Delta) airbus instructor. The same is true of all the controls.

If the computer loses sensor input, the pilot loses control. If a frozen airspeed indicator sends false information to the computer it will act on it. The list is endless. The airplane was designed on the theory that in the long hall, over a large period of time, the computers will make fewer errors than the human pilots, This accepts as necessary the loss of aircraft that could be saved by appropriate action on the part of the pilots. While this may all be true and good, as a long time professional pilot I do not like the prospect of knowing how to save a situation, and being unable to do so because the computer software will not let me. I repeat, I will not ride in one unless it is an emergency and I have no other option.

As for female pilots, I spent longer than I care to remember teaching flying, and had many female students. I found them much more difficult to teach, found navigation to be particularly difficult for them, and was appalled at the appearance of tears as a crisis response in the airplane. The school I worked for is now closed. It closed long after I left and it did so because it had two fatal accidents in one summer. One involved a solo female student, and one involved a male student with a female instructor on board. Both were approach to landing accidents. Of all the students I taught over a number of years only two had accidents that I know of. Both were women, and both were approach to landing accidents. In both cases no one was hurt, and little damage was done. A better outcome than the others, but it was two too many for me. I refused women students after that.

Ferg writes:

Rick Darby writes:

All modern airliners and business jets are flown with the aid of flight management computers and “fly by wire” systems (in which control inputs are transmitted electronically to the control surfaces such as flaps and rudder). But the pilots are still in charge. They program the computers; they can re-program the computers; they can always disconnect the autopilot and “hand fly” the airplane if they believe there is a reason to.

Sorry Rick, but not really true. First, Boeing has direct hydraulic control on most of their models, and an override capability on those that are computer controlled. And all of the Biz jets I have flown were direct control input. Further, disconnecting the auto pilot and hand flying has got nothing to do with it. The hand fly controls on an Airbus are routed through the computer too. No difference. If the software won’t let you do it, it makes no difference if you make your commands manually or through the auto pilot. I lunch almost ever Saturday with a bunch of pilots, many of whom are retired from the airlines and drove Airbus at some point in their careers. To a man they dislike them and their motto is “If it ain’t Boeing, I ain’t going”. Sorry, but me too. And I repeat, I have never flown a business jet with fly by wire controls. Some of the new ones may have that, but I have not heard of such from friends still actively flying in the corporate world. And I would bet there is an override, at least on the American built ones.

LA writes:

Of your two students who had accidents, did that happen while they were your students, or afterward?

Ferg replies:

They happened in one case while she was still a student, in the other the woman had moved on and was working on higher ratings with a different instructor. As I said, I decided after that not to accept any more female students. It was always more work and trouble than it was worth. Some guys liked having female students, but they had sex on their minds.

January 11

Paul Rain writes:

While I agree with your sentiments that in today’s society one might feel more comfortable in a plane flown by a white man—who could not possibly be a beneficiary of affirmative action—my experience suggests that the distribution of women as commercial pilots is commensurate with their abilities. Female commercial pilots are still less common than the most slavish advocates of √©galitaire might like, just as is the case with female mechanical engineers.

The armed forces have had a more dubious record with female pilots. In a transport plane, hydraulics can overcome the physical disadvantage most women are at compared to the average man, but being at a disadvantage in reaction speed does not just endanger fighter pilots, but those who fly with them. The sacrifice of Kara Hultgreen to the pursuit of a ”first” for the Navy is an indictment of the political culture of the times we live in.

Forta Leza writes:

Our culture is so permeated by political correctness, you can’t trust a study or studies which reach a politically correct result. Here is an more full excerpt from the abstract of the first study which was cited by Ken H:

The study found that females employed by major airlines had significantly higher accident rates than their male counterparts overall. However, female airline pilots, on average, were less experienced and much younger than males. Male pilot-error accidents were modeled using logistic regression, regressing on age, experience (total flying hours), risk exposure (flying hours in the last 6 months), and employer (major/non-major airline). The male model provided a good fit for female airline pilots as well as males. After adjusting for variables included in the model, accident rates of males and females were not significantly different.

So you see, the researcher (who is by the way female) started with data which had much higher female accident rates; worked some statistical magic on it; and concluded that accident rates were about the same.

Rick Darby writes:

Ferg wrote:

Sorry Rick, but not really true. First, Boeing has direct hydraulic control on most of their models, and an override capability on those that are computer controlled.

From Wikipedia:

Among 787 flight systems, the most notable contribution to efficiency is the new electrical architecture, which replaces bleed air and hydraulic power sources with electrically powered compressors and pumps, as well as completely eliminating pneumatics and hydraulics from some subsystems (e.g., engine starters or brakes).

I stand corrected about the flight controls of earlier Boeing airliner models, which do use hydraulic systems.

Ferg wrote:

I lunch almost ever Saturday with a bunch of pilots, many of whom are retired from the airlines and drove Airbus at some point in their careers. To a man they dislike them and their motto is “If it ain’t Boeing, I ain’t going”. Sorry, but me too.

Everyone has their personal preferences, from brands of beer to automobiles to movie stars. I have talked with both Boeing and Airbus pilots. They may prefer one manufacturer’s aircraft over another, but I’ve never heard an Airbus pilot claim that the Airbus design presents greater risks or any professional pilot say anything like “I would not fly in [an Airbus plane], short of an emergency.” Technical failure is way, way down on the list of contributing factors to accidents anyhow, with human error a far greater concern. Even in accidents where there is a technical malfunction it’s often maintenance-related, not design-related.

Catherine H. writes:

Curiously, I very recently had a conversation with my father on this subject. He was a JAG in the Navy, and had considerable experience on aircraft carriers. He did not think female pilots were less competent or more likely to have accidents, which surprised me. However, we both agreed that we would much rather be in a plane with a male pilot regardless of statistics. Ironically, it was my mother’s ambition to become a pilot that was the catalyst for his own career; she was rejected for flight school because of her poor eyesight. Not to be outdone, my father joined up, and stayed for 27 years.

Squire Western writes:

You wrote:

“I suppose there have been female airline pilots for many years, though offhand I don’t remember ever hearing of one. I sure never heard of an airliner in which both the pilot and the co-pilot were women.”

It’s funny you mention that, since just last year I was on a plane where both captain and first officer were of the weaker sex. When the captain came on over the intercom just before takeoff, I felt a combination of shock, amusement, and even a little concern. (Is this a history-making flight? And if so, where are all the TV cameras? Do passengers on this flight get a prize? Will they land us safely?) To their credit, they did get passengers from A to B in one piece. I think I would have been more concerned if it had been a long-haul flight. Or if the pilots were named Mahmoud and Abdullah. Or Shitavious and DeMaurice.

January 13

Matthew H. writes:

A late thought about your post, Are women as good at flying planes as men? The reason women pilots have no more accidents than men may be related to the reason minority default rates were roughly equal to those of whites and Asians prior to the housing bubble. When the same standards are applied across the board, as still happens in critical fields like aviation and medicine, anyone who makes the cut will be up to the task whether it be piloting a plane, performing surgery or paying a mortgage. As things stand now all pilots or surgeons, male or female, black or white, have rightfully earned the status of peer in a pretigious field. On the other hand, when, in order to increase participation among groups who are deemed to be “under-represented”, we lower standards, we can predict that more members of formerly “under-represented” groups will fail. In fact, when standards are lowered they will either:

(a) be lowered for all, thereby increasing the rate of failure for all groups and, at the same time, destroying the prestige that attracted high-functioning individuals to such fileds in the first place; or,

(b) Be lowered only for the “under-represented” but not for white males, thereby creating a disproportion in failure rates between various groups where none had existed previously (as in the housing bubble). This would likely lead to contempt on the part of the competent toward their favored “peers” and create fear and confusion among consumers.

LA replies:

Very clear explanation.

I just thought of saying this. Your phrase, “[standards] will be lowered for all, thereby increasing the rate of failure for all groups,” created a momentary cognitive dissonance in this reader, because one’s first thought is that lowering standards decreases the number of failures. But of course you are talking about failure, not at the “front end” when a person is admitted into the profession of airliner pilots or is given a mortgage loan, but failure where it counts for society, AFTER the person has become an airliner pilot or must pay off a mortgage loan.

SLE writes:

This post is very interesting to me, as I’ve had the same experience that others here, including Squire Western, have shared. Just last month, I had a 6:00 a.m. flight from Rochester, New York to Charlotte, North Carolina. While I waited at the gate, I saw two attractive young ladies dressed in pilot’s uniforms approach the counter. I was surprised at how young they seemed, and I could not take seriously the notion of them as pilots. I had seen female pilots before, but only as co-pilots, or otherwise teamed with men. As I was already anxious about the icy weather and wanted to get home, I felt relief when they turned away and headed toward another gate. I was filled with the sense of how silly it was to see these two, dressed like men with shirt and tie, pilot’s caps, lesser facsimiles of the real thing. I hearkened back to a flight long ago when I was 13, and a pilot named Captain Doubleday, whose voice came over the intercom: stern, masculine, an air of experience, yet friendly; a serious man in a serious line of work. This was comforting to a young boy who admired that captain to the point of remembering his name to this day.

When I boarded the plane about 45 minutes later, my concern renewed as I saw the two girls in the cockpit of my plane. It was a cold morning that required a de-icing treatment to the plane, and when the “captain” announced our take-off delay in her soft, elvish, girlish voice, I felt a wave of panic. Although I had awakened very early that morning with only around three hours of sleep due to a late company “Holiday” party (the holiday of course being CHRISTMAS), I did not sleep a wink during my two-hour plus flight back to Charlotte. I constantly worried, “What if there’s an emergency? How will these girls respond? Will they be able to pull a Sully Sullenberger move with his stern, calm, decisive resolve and save us if necessary? Where did they get their training? Why do both pilots have to be women? What the heck is going on here?!?” And how silly it seemed again after take-off, when the co-pilot’s voice came on in affected male “pilot” tones and inflection to make the typical announcements of flight time, weather, “enjoy the flight,” etc. I was petrified until the plane landed and my feet were on the ground.

Did they fly the plane? Yes. Did we make it in one piece? Yes. But as others have articulated, it’s not about that. It’s about an intangible sense that this just isn’t right. And among all the other concerns I have as a single father in this degenerating country, I continue to notice the upside-down world my boys will grow up in. Aging men in their fifties or obvious homosexuals are now my “flight attendant,” not stewardess, providing no genuine feminine care and comfort to weary travelers, and sexy little girls are my “captain” and co-pilot. Let me off this ride.

JC in Houston writes:

SLE’s account of his flight to Charlotte with two female pilots reminded me of how much the airline industry has changed and brought to mind a family connection. My late uncle (by marriage) passed away in October of 2010 at the age of 89. Uncle Jack flew 25 missions over Germany as a B-17 pilot and captain with the 8th Army Air Force in 1943, before long range fighter escort was available. He flew some of the hardest missions of the air war, such as the Schweinfurt-Regensburg raid. After the war he joined Pan American Airlines and in a 37 year career flew everything from DC-4s and 707s and finally retired as a Boeing 747 captain. I can certainly imagine the difference to passengers in an emergency it must be to know your airline captain flew through the worst the Luftwaffe had to offer versus two little cuties in the cockpit. Part of the problem is that before deregulation in 1978, the airlines could be picky in who they recruited for pilots. Most new hires had substantial hours as military pilots. Of course, returning to that situation wouldn’t necessarily bring back the old days, given the modern military’s penchant for “diversity” (case in point, Kara Hultgren, the unqualified Navy pilot who was killed when she crashed her F-14 attempting a carrier landing).

LA replies:

Yes, but looking back to a one-time historical event, such as World War II, is not a sound basis for criticizing current practices. The criticism needs to be based on permanent principles, e.g., the permanent differences between the sexes, not on the fact that one generation of airline pilots had flown bombers over Nazi Germany and the following generations hadn’t.


Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 09, 2012 03:26 PM | Send
    

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