I frequent a pilot wife website and I was just directed to this article by Clint White. It basically says that I am: strong, independent, knowledgeable, resourceful, understanding, and compromising. What a great article, where we are getting some credit.
The Aviation Spouse, The Unsung Hero of the Flying World
Sometimes we forget during our 14-16 hour duty days and 7-or-more-day tours that there is another side to aviation that we see only briefly. That part is the role of the aviation spouse. The wives, husbands and partners that are part of our lives and have married into this often strange world, shoulder a burden every bit as great as our own.
The aviation spouse often comes into this profession of flying with very little knowledge about the reality of being married to a pilot. It’s easy to say “we’ll manage,” but it’s not so easy when you miss holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and other special events. It’s not so easy when you dont have a set schedule and have to fly for a trip at the last-minute cancelling plans and even vacations. It’s not so easy to take care of the children, alone with all the work that entails and have your pilot spouse comes home tired as well. It’s not so easy when emergencies arise and your spouse is hundreds or thousands of miles away and really can’t do a thing about it. It’s not so easy when you have to pack or sell almost everything you own to move to another city for a flying job. Truly the aviation spouse must be a special person in the relationship or it cannot last.
The men and women who become our partners are really are the unsung heroes of aviation. In many ways they are taking on 2/3 or more of the role of parenting in the relationship. Having a family can be especially difficult when you are away from your children and your spouse for extended periods of time. The aviation spouse MUST have a strong personality and basically be an independent person for the relationship to succeed. The aviation spouse has to be knowledgeable and resourceful, since you are often not there to make those decisions. In some ways they live a “single” life. There are times unfortunately that even best of relationships fall apart due to the stress of the aviation lifestyle and there is MANY a pilot that can attest to that.
How as pilots can we try to avoid this problem? Thats also not easy. Balancing work and life can be difficult under the best of circumstances, but short of staying single, helping your spouse or potential spouse understand the rigors of being married to a pilot is a good first step. A VERY long talk helps. I was lucky enough to marry such a spouse.
The best aviation spouse I can think of is that unique blend of independence and understanding. Flying is unlike any other profession. A good spouse has to realize that you are going to be away for long periods of time, that often the daily rhythm of life is upended by your schedule. They must be nearly saint like in their understanding of the economics of aviation. The hard low-pay starts when you both are barely scraping by, the highest highs when the money is good and then the often shocking change in lifestyle when furloughs, layoffs or the changing economy has you back on the bottom again. This world is not for everyone. Aviation for the pilot is as much about love as it is about prestige. I think most of us can say that we have at least one relationship that has ended because we chose aviation over that person. It’s never the “easy” choice.
There is one BIG plus with the aviation spouse. When it works well it is truly one of the most rewarding things in the world. If you are lucky enough to marry this special person, you can look forward to a lifetime of love and companionship, and understanding from them that you are doing what you love and can’t imagine doing anything else. This person is excited by the possibility of adventure, even when you have to move half way across the country or even the world for a new job. This person is resourceful enough to either work or find a side business to help you both through the hard times. There is much compromise involved in this relationship, but all good relationships involve some compromise.
Our spouses, our “aviation heroes” are every bit as an important part of the flying community as we are. They are often our guide, our conscience and the first people we can lean on when times get tough. It’s not easy being married to a pilot, but I believe that I wouldnt have become the aviator and the man who I am without my spouse, my heroine, by my side.
Today is the Day!