Barriers to entry into the cockpit

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The allure of the cockpit has called out to me since I was a wee lad. That seems to be true for a great many folks who grow up to be pilots.

Along the way, somewhere between that initial spark and the issuance of the first certificate, there are discoveries to be made. The dream isn’t always right in line with the reality of it all.

It was 1968 or so, while enrolled at Thomas S. O’Connell Elementary School in East Hartford, Connecticut, when I encountered my first book that included a peek at aviation as a career. I distinctly recall the page devoted to the pros and cons of being a pilot. In the pro column was the pay, which was quite high by non-pilot standards. Also, the ability to travel and be paid for it was considered to be a plus. On the con side was an item that I dismissed completely.

Cockpits can be tight. Very tight.

As a 10-year old boy, there didn’t seem to be any space I couldn’t squeeze my slender pre-pubescent body into and out of with minimal effort. That turned out to be a double-edged sword of sorts.

My granddad lived on a gorgeous lake in North Florida where the water was crystal clear and adult supervision was nonexistent. My brother and I, along with the neighbor kids, spent much of each day in the water. Young boys, being young boys, tend to push the limits of good sense, and we certainly did that. By kicking a bit of sand out of the way, we took turns swimming under the bottom step of the wooden stairs that led from the lake to the dock. It never occurred to us that we’d drown if we got stuck. 

A similar lack of foresight went into my early flying pursuits. By the time I climbed into the pilot’s seat with an intentional purpose, I was in my late 20s, physically fit and limber as a cat. Sliding into the Cherokee, the Tomahawk, the C-152, and C-172 was a breeze. Whether I had to climb up on a wing then step down or slither in behind the struts to step up to the seat, entry to the cockpit was never a problem.

Now, more than 30 years later, the airplanes are exactly the same. While the panels contain gadgets I could never have dreamed of,

This post was originally published by General Aviation News on . Please visit the original post to read the complete article.

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