Day in the Work Life: Fly me to the moon

Marketplace Staff Mar 23, 2007

TESS VIGELAND:
This is Marketplace Money from American Public Media. I’m Tess Vigeland. Americans got their first look at the Airbus A380 jumbo jet this week, exciting times for the airline industry. But on the flipside, another winter storm forced carriers to cancel a slew of flights. Pity the poor employees who got to deal with crazed passengers. But not everyone is unhappy. On this week’s A Day in the Work Life, we reach cruising altitude with a pilot.

MARC-ANTOINE DEPLOUR:
I love being in planes. I love being here in the hanger, looking at these airplanes. And if you look at this one right here, that’s a Falcon 900. It’s got three engines, state of the art. It’s huge and it flies anywhere on the world you want and great comfort. You’re like royalty every time you walk in there. And as a pilot, you get to fly these things. How can you not love this? I’m Marc-Antoine Deplour. I’m an Air Canada pilot. My dad was an Air Canada pilot. And as long as I can remember, I wanted to follow in his footsteps. My favorite plane is got to be, you know, the P-3 Orion. I flew it in the Air Force for four years. And it was exciting missions from search and rescue, narcotics operation, hunting for Soviet submarines, you know. I make it sound like Hollywood, but that’s what we were trained for. We did it all on the P-3. And for four years, I had such a great time.

I fly the Airbus A320, a mid-ranger craft that does the entire of North America and the Caribbeans and Mexico. I probably does, on average, a 20 to 50 flights a month. And flying, as you know, is the safest method of transportation. So the odds of us ending up in an aircraft accident are so slim, we don’t even think about it. There are challenges. There are dangerous flying aircraft. But you know, did you know there are licenses only good for six months? After six months, we have to renew our license. So we’re in the (UNINTELLIGIBLE). We’re continuously tested for emergencies.

You know, I’m never scared flying airplanes. I don’t have any anxiety with regards to flying an airplane. The way 9/11 affected my career, my job, we used to fly with the cockpit doors open. And we used to have such freedom to invite who we wanted in the flight deck. And now, everything’s so complicated where there’d be airport security, the long lineups, and the biometrics, and the finger scans, and the readiness scan, and this and that. It takes forever. And it just adds so much to your day. And inside the airplane, imagine doing a 10-hour flight with a bulletproof door closed. And every time you want something, it’s a special procedure. You know, it takes the fun, sometimes, out of the job.

An airline pilot, well, at a bigger line, you make over $100,000 US, you know, once you’ve been in for 10 years plus. It’s a good income. I think it’s well deserved for the job that we do. It takes many, many years to get to where we’re at. And we have a responsibility for the life of the passengers that are onboard. You know, I take the job very seriously. Flying is a true passion. However, I do have a second passion that’s been surfacing lately. I wanna become a professional crooner. I’m taking lessons right now and getting a band together, and I plan to do a concert within about 12 months. So I find there’s a lot of songs out there that can be sang by a pilot such as, you know, fly me to the moon. Let me play among the stars. So some of these songs, I think, I’m quite comfortable with the job I do, don’t you think?

VIGELAND: Good luck with that. A Day in the Work Life was reported by Judith Miller.

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