We DON'T just take off and land! I'm a pilot, here's what we REALLY do

We DON’T just take off and land! I’m a pilot and here’s what we REALLY do during those long-haul 18-hour flights

  • Airline pilot, Gary Baumgardner has cleared up some common misconceptions
  • After a viral TikTok video, the pilot spoke to MailOnline to set the record straight 
  • READ MORE: Former flight attendant shares the truth about turbulence

For most  on board, long-haul flights are endured with a sleep mask, a few films or TV shows… but for the pilots flying the plane, it’s a very different story. 

Despite common belief, pilots have a lot more to do in the skies after switching to autopilot, and one pilot has taken to TikTok to set the record straight. 

In response to a confused TikToker who asked: ‘What the hell to pilots do for an 18 hour flight, like Singapore to New York, 18 hours, all they need to do is take off and land,’  airline pilot Gary Baumgardner said 

Sharing to his 240,700 followers the pilot, based at LAX, said that it’s not ‘entirely accurate’ to say they just take off and land. 

Clearing up any confusion, the airline pilot spoke to MailOnline.  

Contrary to popular belief, pilots have a lot to do on their long-haul flights other than press the autopilot button and one pilot has taken to TikTok to set the record straight

The pilot said he wanted to clear up some misconceptions, and revealed to thousands of followers what pilots actually do in the skies

Speaking in the viral video, after just completing a close to 18-hour shift, Gary said he wanted to ‘clear up’ some misconceptions. 

READ MORE: I’m a former flight attendant and these are the most – and the least – demanding nationalities on board 

He said: ‘Everybody thinks we’re like Homer Simpson up there and there’s just like a big button we push. One button sit there call it the autopilot and we do nothing.’

But, Gary explained: ‘The autopilot is a tool the way a bat is a tool for a Major League Baseball player when he wants to go hit a home run.’

For example, the pilot explained that if they are flying during a thunderstorm, autopilot cannot just automatically direct you out of it. 

He added: ‘If ATC [Air Traffic Control] tells you to climb or descend or turn, that just doesn’t happen with the autopilot, we have to do that.’

According to Gary, they have to complete logs, take ATC calls and do ‘all kinds of other things’ such as do system checks. 

‘And that’s just if we have nothing that’s going on that’s non normal or emergencies,’ he added.

Gary told MailOnline that pilots will only be given breaks when there are at least three pilots on board and they last typically between 2-3 hours

Another common misconception is regarding pilot’s sleeping arrangements, but the pilot soon cleared that up and told followers that pilot’s can sleep. 

He explained: ‘I know for a fact that if you have a flight that is 18 hours long, you have four pilots and we actually have our own beds and bunk beds up there and we sleep and we eat.’

On an 18-hour flight, he said, pilots can eat breakfast, dinner and lunch – but perhaps not in the correct order due to time differences.  

According to the pilot, most international flights have ‘rest bunks’ for the crew to sleep in, but for those that don’t, he said: ‘They’ll reserve a first class seat that you can sit down and lay in so you can get some rest.’

Since it was posted, the TikTok has raked in nearly four million views, and has received thousands of comments from intrigued users. 

After much confusion in the comment section, Gary confirmed to MailOnline that there are always two pilots at the controls and that they will only be given breaks when ‘you have at least three pilots.’ 

He explained: ‘Breaks will vary depending on how many crew members and the length of flight but typically are 2-3 hours.’ 

According to Gary lots of things help pass the time on an 18 hour plane shift, and they may even be given a first class seat to rest in 

Gary revealed that he actually prefers longer flights because it is ‘more efficient with your time and pay.’

He added: ‘Flying 1 flight that’s 6 hours to Hawaii is more pleasant than flying 3 flights that are 2 hours each. However, not all pilots think this way and many prefer shorter flights.’

One person wrote: ‘It’s an incredibly tough job,’ while another added: ‘Thank you for keeping us safe.’ 

One ex-flight attendant commented: ‘I’m glad you’ve explained this because people used to get mad seeing that pilots are asleep.’ 

Meanwhile, another added: ‘Imagine just chilling in first class and you see your pilot chilling next to you.’ 

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