Pilot’s School

I’ve always been extremely fortunate in my life when it comes to flying. By that I mean that, so far, I’ve never been on a plane that’s crashed. Irrespective of whether I’m flying long haul to Dubai, Singapore, the States, or a short haul hop between the UK and Portugal, much to my wife’s disgust I’m one of those really fortunate people that falls asleep within 10 minutes of sitting down on the plane, and I usually only wake up when my wife nudges me that we’re about to land.

So, as you can imagine – I am, to say the least, fairly relaxed and generally at ease about flying. At least I was, until I came across an article entitled ‘Rules of the Air’, which I was reliably informed was a document circulated on day one by a well-known airline to all their new trainee pilots.

Never having been employed as a trainee pilot, I have no way of knowing if that is true or not…

So, what are these rules that now make me so wary? Read them for yourself and see what you think!


– Every take off is completely optional. Every landing is completely mandatory.

– If you push the stick forward, the houses start getting bigger. If you pull the stick back, they then get smaller. That is, unless you keep pulling the stick all the way back, then they start getting bigger again.

– Flying is incredibly safe and not in the least bit dangerous – it’s the crashing that’s not quite so good!

– It is always better to be down here wishing you were up there, than up there wishing you were down here.

– The only time you have too much fuel on board is when the plane is on fire.

– We have recently discovered that the propeller is just a big fan in front of the plane used to keep the pilots cool. We discovered this because when it stopped going round, we could watch the pilots starting to sweat profusely.

– When you are in doubt about what to do next, the basic rule in flying is to stick to your altitude. So far as we are aware, no one has ever collided with the sky.

– This company considers a ‘really good’ landing as one where everybody can walk away from the plane. We consider a ‘really great’ landing as one after which we can use the plane again.

– While you are training with us, do try to learn from the mistakes of others.
It’s highly unlikely you’ll live long enough to make all the mistakes yourself.

– You’ll know you’ve landed with the wheels still up if you hear lots of graunchy noises coming from underneath you, lots of yelling and screaming noises coming from behind you and it takes all the engines on full power just to taxi to the ramp.

– Please learn this equation – we feel it’s very important! The probability of survival is inversely proportional to the angle of arrival. Let us put that in simpler words for you – a large angle of arrival equals small probability of survival, and vice versa.

– Another Golden Rule you should learn: Never let the aircraft take you somewhere your brain didn’t want to travel to five minutes earlier.

– Try to stay out of the clouds. This mystical silver lining everyone keeps talking about will more than likely be another plane, probably going in the opposite direction. Reliable sources have also reported to us that very high mountains have often been known to hide out in clouds.

– The mark of a really good pilot is to always try to keep the number of landings you make identical to the number of take-offs you’ve made.

– There are three very simple rules for making a perfectly smooth landing. Unfortunately, nobody in this company knows what they are.

– You start your training with a bag full of luck, and an empty bag of experience.
The trick is to fill the bag of experience before you empty the bag of luck.

– Be warned – this airline firmly believes helicopters cannot fly. They are just so ugly the earth repels them.

– If all you can see out of the windscreen is the ground, and it’s going round and round, and all you can hear is lots of screaming coming from the passenger compartment, then you should assume something is possibly wrong!

– In the never ending and ongoing battle between long noisy objects made of aluminium travelling at hundreds of miles per hour, and the ground going at zero miles per hour – the ground has yet to lose.

– Good judgement always comes from having experience. Unfortunately, the experience is usually obtained by bad judgement.

– It’s always a good idea to keep the pointy end of the aircraft going forward as much as possible.

– Keep looking around you. There’s bound to be something you’ve missed.

– Always remember that gravity is not just a very good idea, it also happens to be the law and, unfortunately, it’s not a law that is subject to appeal in court.

– Always remember the motto of our airline: We trust you enjoyed giving us your business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride.

By Trevor Holman
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Trevor Holman has lived in the Algarve for 20 years. An ex-session musician, advertising director and Justice of the Peace, Trevor has written four stage musicals, over 100 songs and has had eight of his novels published to date, including the highly successful ‘Algarve Crime Thriller’ series.