The Pilot (I)

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Pablo Edronkin

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The pilot is the most important component of an aircraft, so to speak; thus, in any description about the flight of an airplane what is a pilot is a question that must be answered before anything else.

The pilot or aviator is neither a superhuman nor a perfect being; there are many myths around attempting to portray the character and nature of pilots and aviators, and most of them are wrong. But what is true is that the standards used to judge who can receive a pilot's license are somewhat higher than those used to grant a driver's license because flying is not like steering a car or riding a motorbike. Without the pilot an airplane ceases to fly; it is as simple as that even in the case of sophisticated aircraft that count on even more sophisticated computers and autopilot systems because even to program and manage those instruments the judgement capability of the trained human is required. Thus, the pilot constitutes an essential component of an aircraft.

As in other walks of life, being a pilot implies many things and there are lots of different skills and abilities that lead to different career paths according to the kind of aircraft flown, the kind of missions, the technical characteristics of each aircraft, etc. but commonly, the following main categories apply:

- Private pilot: This person flies with essentially with no direct commercial interests.

- Commercial pilot: This is a professional pilot that gets paid to fly.

- Airline transport pilot (ATP): This is the person that flies for a living in a regular commercial transport company, meaning a passenger or cargo airline.

- Military pilot: Self-explaining, it is a soldier of the air that flies for the armed or security forces of a country.

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