Reflection of the “Dentist Pilot”

The taxiway glisters from where I’m seated in the observer’s seat, the tell tale sign of a wet taxiway.

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Who is that aircraft I see, staring straight back at me? I humor myself.

Another night, another graveyard shift. This time, I’m the cruise relief pilot. Or should I say the “dentist pilot”- unwanted yet necessary. You dread dentist visits, but you know they are vital to oral health. At least, that’s how the company views my role.

What it means, is that long flight time require an additional pilot to comply with flight duty period (FDP) regulations. My job is to relief whomever is managing their fatigue. Typically, we divide the rest time into half. Captain and the operating First Officer take turns resting at Premium Class, while I sit in to fill their roles.

I usually offer them my own rest time, because I figure that since they do the bulk of the heavy lifting, they earned the right to a prolonged rest. Or so I say. Truth is, the snoring in premium drives me nuts. Invest in some nasal strips, people.

Photo credit: www.gizmodo.com

I silently weigh the pros and cons of my role as cruise relief pilot. Money- good. Left seat rating- good. Workload is relatively OK. But on the other hand: an endless bout of insufferable ennui and boredom.

Win some, lose some; that’s what makes life not tiresome.

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