What does it take to be a pilot? Captain Lim Khoy Hing explains the requirements and shares about life in the skies.
Words: Captain Lim Khoy Hing
“Wow, you’re a pilot? That’s fascinating!” I get this remark quite often. The life of an airline pilot conjures up images of travels to exotic destinations where there are beautiful places to be explored, exciting people to be met and rip-roaring adventures to be had. And these fantasies are exactly why many aspiring pilots chase this dream, which, when viewed this way, can be fraught with disappointments.
Let me give you some insight into this profession. An airline pilot’s primary responsibility is to ensure that he or she flies the plane and its passengers safely from the departure airport to their destination. This is foremost on our minds, before all those dreams of glamour and adventure. Navigating the skies, seeing the world from above and realising what an awesome responsibility we bear in the safe carriage of our precious cargo – our guests – these things drive us to be our best.
Becoming a member of the cabin crew requires much more than a pretty face. Comprehensive training, a cool head and a big heart all figure into the makeup of the glamorous jet setting crew.
Words: Captain Lim Khoy Hing
In January 15, 2009, Captain Sully successfully touched down on the Hudson River after an unfortunate bird strike event. He was praised in the media for the way he handled the landing, but the other quiet hero of the day was Flight Attendant Doreen Welsh who efficiently evacuated the cabin, instructing passengers to jump over the seats in order to move forward. She was so focused on guiding her 150 passengers to safety that she failed to notice a large cut on her leg.
Flight attendants have sometimes been called ‘trolley dollies’ – a term coined at an earlier era, in reference to how the cabin crew served drinks and other refreshments from a trolley. In the early days of aviation, the job of a flight stewardess (the preferred terminology now is ‘flight attendant’ or ‘cabin crew’) was an enviable one, as it allowed these sophisticated and fashionable women to fly around the globe and stay at topnotch hotels in exotic places while visiting wonderful attractions beyond the reach of regular folks. People perceived this career to be a dream vocation.
Captain Lim Khoy Hing explores the strange effects of dry cabin air.
A guest once wrote to me for tips on overcoming the problems caused by dry air. He asked if the air in the cabin could be the reason his nose often bled while flying.
Air inside an airplane can indeed be very dry. Cabin air has a very low relative humidity of around 10 per cent. Compare this value to the Earth’s desert regions where humidity is around 20 to 25 per cent. However, if you are in a tropical region, for example, in Singapore, the average relative humidity is about 85 per cent.
In the dry environment of the cabin, evaporation of moisture from the skin can be as high as eight ounces of water per hour! According to some medical sources, those with very sensitive skin may find that the delicate sinus inside the nose tends to dry out fairly quickly. This may cause the nose to bleed.
Dehydration may also be the cause of cracked lips, as well as a burning sensation in the eyes, headaches and lethargy. Less obvious consequences of dehydration include inducing stress on the body, reducing mucus production and lowering the body’s immune system.
If you like what you read, more stories are found in my book LIFE IN THE SKIES (Preview here) and you can purchase a copy here. To check for any latest updates or postings, you can follow my Twitter at @CaptKHLim or Facebook here