Morbid fascination got the better of me this week as I followed with great interest the release of the cockpit recordings from Continental Flight 3407 which tragically crashed near Buffalo earlier this year.  I think a lot about plane crashes and the absolute horror that must consume the victims.  But the coverage of the NTSB hearings sent my mind in somewhat of a different direction — and I’m not proud of where I found myself.  Allow me to explain.

It started when the photos of the pilot and co-pilot were displayed.


If you had any sort of reaction even close to mine, the voices inside your head would have been said something along the lines of

“THAT is not an airplane pilot.  THAT is a cheerleader… or my babysitter… or someone auditioning for The Real World – Disneyland. ” 

(P.S. – I’m not talking about the guy on the left.) 

Never one to miss an opportunity to navel gaze, I then asked myself, have I dismissed this woman because she is young and pretty?  The answer is no.  I’ve dismissed this woman because she IS a woman.  Shame on me.

I fly enough to know my way around several airports throughout the country.  I’m not a nervous flyer anymore but I have a fair amount of anxiety which I try to bury in that deep dark place that is invisible to the human eye.  I do wait after we board each flight to hear from our captain to set my mind at ease that he sounds calm and collected.   And “our captain” for as long as I have been flying, has always been a man.  And his name has always been something like John Williamson.  I like Captain Williamson.  I am confident in Captain Williamson’s ability to keep the plane up in the air.  Captain Williamson would be able to land a plane in the Hudson River if needed.  Captain Williamson is steeped in experience and will protect his passengers no matter what.

I realize this young woman was a co-pilot but I wondered how I would feel if I was sitting in my seat waiting to take off and over the intercom Captain Amber Williamson introduced herself.  Would I feel confident and safe?  My answer is…….no.   Even if this female pilot was older than me, I would still feel ill at ease.

So I have been struggling with this newly discovered prejudice for the last 48 hours.  I have always been of the mind set that women can do anything men can do – and just as well.  Except fly a plane.  What is UP with that? 

I’m still scratching my head.  Any MoB readers who feel the same or want to shed a little light on why I am such a horrible person, speak up.

And have a great weekend.

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