Professional Pilot
What is the difference between Delta Flight 1435 from SFO to SAN and Cessna 756RA from OAK to MYF?  No, that is not the start of an Irish Limerick.  I constantly hear people refer to “professional pilots” yet I’ve been pondering what that actually means.  I know that some people think it means you fly large aircraft with 150 passengers in back.  It doesn’t.  Some people think professional pilots always get paid for flying airplanes.  They don’t.  Others think that professional pilots receive more training.  Not quite.  

When you have a sickness or injury that requires medical attention, you look for the non-professional doctor right?  Legal problems?  Let’s go see the un-professional lawyer, yes?  I’m certain these thoughts never cross your mind.  So when your neighbor wants you to take them around the bay for a sightseeing tour, do they ask you if you are a professional or a non-professional pilot.  I think not.  

If you are a pilot, you are a professional pilot.  It really is that simple.  Webster defines the adjective professional as:
  • aof, relating to, or characteristic of a profession
  • bengaged in one of the learned professions
  • c (1)characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession
  • c (2)exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace
“Characteristic of a profession.”  When you receive your pilot certificate, you become a professional.  Anything less is not acceptable.
  • Are you concerned with your passengers’ safety and making it to your destination safely?
  • Do you plan your flight to ensure you have met any required regulations based on the type of flight you will be conducting (IFR/VFR)?
  • Do you check weather before departing to ensure you have an accurate picture of the conditions you will encounter en-route?
  • Do you get updated weather en-route if forecast weather is not as expected?
  • Do you debrief yourself at the conclusion of every flight and look for improvements you can make?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you ARE a professional pilot.  If you use ATC services, including IFR flights through the National Airspace System, you are absolutely no different than Delta 1435 above.  The only difference is the altitude and speed of your airplane.  Of course there is extra training for the airline pilots.  There is also extra training moving from a Cessna to a Piper to a Beechcraft.  Does WHAT you fly make you any less of a professional pilot?  No.  If you are still unsure or unconvinced that you are, in fact, a professional pilot than think about the following:
  • Commit to a debrief after every flight:  Debrief yourself about what went right, what went wrong, and what you can do to improve for the next time.
  • Commit to some kind of pilot training every year:  This could be a new rating, certificate, endorsement or just a course that maybe teaches you some new avionics.  
  • Commit to sounding better on the radio:  Many pilots think their radio skills are top notch.  Yet every day, I hear pilots responding to “standby,” failure to read back runway assignments with taxi instructions and always starting a radio call with “and.”
  • Commit to adhering to all appropriate regulations for your flight:  91.103 has a lot of required “to do’s” for all of your cross country flights. 
  • Commit to being a better pilot…
Immerse yourself in all of the things that may possibly make you even more professional than you are now.  Read all you can about flying, safety, accident reports, etc.  Think it can’t happen to you?  It can.  Attend all things aviation.  This includes Club and non-Club events, FAASTeam events, seminars, and other aviation-related events.  

If this sounds too difficult or time consuming, no problem.  Just let me know before you head to your next doctor’s appointment and I’ll get you in contact with a non-professional doctor.  His name, Curtis Springer and he lives off of Zzyzx Rd.  Look him up.

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The SR 22T is the right plane for this kind of trip. With 3 POB and baggage, you can fly easy 2h30 min legs, which is just right for the passengers, und you are still in limits with the weight and having enough reserves, to reach an alternate. To fly to high altitude airports (or airports with high Density altitude) the turbo of this plane gives you always enough power, to ensure safe take off´s.

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