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Many movies and TV shows about pilots and the aviation industry give the public a glimpse into this prestigious vocation. While a lot of thought goes into actors’ roles as pilots, they don’t always show a realistic depiction of the everyday life of a pilot. Often, the stories are highly dramatized to increase the show’s entertainment value and don’t reveal everything that goes on in the cockpit. This leads to people misunderstanding some information about aviators.

If you want to learn how to tell apart fact from fiction, then this article aims to set the record straight. Here are some common misconceptions about being a pilot and the truths behind them.

A Pilot Only Needs One Training Program

Some people believe a pilot only needs to go through one specialized course. What they aren’t aware of is being a pilot requires constant learning, especially if they want to pursue a career as a commercial pilot. The career requires the pilot to continuously improve their skills and undergo various testing. Aside from completing comprehensive pilot training and getting the necessary licenses, you need to constantly stay up to date with the latest information and technology in the aviation industry. This ensures that you’re capable of flying different aircraft sizes and types while safely transporting thousands of people around the world.

You Can’t Be a Pilot If You Wear Glasses

One common misconception about being a pilot is you need to have 20/20 vision, which is false. You can still fly an aircraft as long as your eyesight problem can be managed using corrective glasses or contact lenses. Also, one of the requirements to hold a pilot license in the Philippines is to have a First Class Medical Certificate. This is where an Aviation Medical Examiner sees if you’re fit to become a pilot by conducting various health examinations, which includes an eye test. If the examiner clears you for flying, then wearing glasses or contacts shouldn’t be an issue.

The Autopilot Does All the Flying, the Pilot Just Chills Out

Many people believe that pilots hardly do anything in the cockpit because of the advanced aviation systems today. They simply turn on the autopilot and relax the entire flight, but this isn’t true at all. While pilots activate the autopilot during the flight, they handle takeoff and landing on their own. Also, the pilot and their co-pilot continuously monitor and control the automatic systems on the plane.

You need to understand that autopilot is like a computer program to help reduce pilots’ workload, so they can also work on other tasks such as monitoring other cockpit instruments and checking the airplane’s position at the same time. As such, the autopilot still needs to rely on the human pilot for instructions. If, for example, a pilot tells the autopilot to fly heading west at a specific altitude, it will maintain the course—even if it’s heading off the flight path. This is when a pilot needs to redirect the aircraft and ensure it reaches the destination safely and on schedule.

Being a Pilot Means You Don’t Have Time for a Family

Being a pilot indeed requires a lot of traveling, but this doesn’t mean they’re too busy to find the right work-life balance. It will depend on your employer how frequently you’ll be working and having time off. Some airlines have fixed rosters, where pilots sign on for five days of work and sign off for four days. This kind of pattern allows pilots to carefully plan their time off as they know which days they will need to report to work. On the other hand, in some legacy short-haul airlines, pilots may need to be away from home for up to four nights a week. Some major airlines may ask for more extended tours, but they’ll also provide the pilot with more time off afterward.

At times, commercial airline pilots can influence their monthly schedule to some extent. They can arrange some time off in case there’s an important event they want to attend. So, having a pilot’s schedule can still allow you some time to enjoy your personal life.

For many people, the only information they know about being a pilot is based on what they see in movies and TV shows. This leads to a lot of common misconceptions about the aviation industry. One of the best ways to combat these myths is to join a full-time pilot cadetship program that can realistically simulate a commercial airline environment. It’s only through proper learning and training that can learn about the real deal about pilots.