Thursday, August 26, 2010

the uniform

We are working so hard on the new house that it is pretty much consuming our life right now.  We have a move in date, so by September 20th we should be moved...yippee!!!!  I have thought about this topic a couple weeks ago and figured that there is no time like the present to talk about it...the uniform.

Pilots and their uniform.  Here is Steve in uniform (for the visual).  And for the people who would notice, this is was taken when he was wearing four stripes at his old company, on his old plane.  As a matter of fact, this was taken on his last flight with his FO.



Ah, there is so much to talk about regarding the uniform...where do I begin?

Well, let's start with the inspiration to this post.  A couple weeks ago we had a showing at the house from 6-7.  Steve's last leg got in at 6pm, so he just met me and the kids at the new house since the showing was going on.  We decided to go out for ice cream, but Steve's response was "but I am in my uniform."  Well, he had his suitcase with him, so a quick change into shorts and we were off for ice cream.  Steve never likes to wear his uniform outside of the airport. 

Sometimes has does, upon request.  A good couple years ago my late grandfather was in the hospital for something minor, but required an overnight stay.  I was at the hospital visiting, and Steve was going to meet us there after he got in.  My grandparents were both very proud of Steve being a pilot, and they always made sure to bring that up when mentioning his profession to friends.  I knew that Steve showing up in his uniform would put a smile on my grandfather's face, and Steve was happy to comply. 

My grandfather and I were sitting in his hospital room, and Steve showed up.  I tell you what, by grandfather sprung up from his bed faster than anything and said "hey, let's go out in the hall."  I know that he wanted to show off to everyone that Steve was a pilot. 

When my oldest nephew was in preschool he would have share days on Friday.  For weeks he always talked about sharing his uncle Steve...the pilot.  Well, after some planning Steve did show up, to be shared!  How cool!


Steve has also done volunteering as a pilot.  Pilots for Kids (I think this is what it is called) is where he visits kids in hospitals while wearing a uniform.  They do this around Christmas time and bring toys.  These types of things he has no issues, whatsoever, to wear his uniform.



Now, let's get down to the nitty gritty of this uniform.
#1: those pants are horrible!  Imagine stepping out of the plane to do you walk around in Panama City, Panama.  Imagine how great it must feel to have that wonderful polyester stick to your legs.  Ewww! Just to remind you, Panama City is just north of the equator:

photo credits: worldatlas.com

#2: the shirt: ring around the collar, grease stains (green grease?! Where in the heck does green grease come from?!), shoulder harness stains, stains around the shirt pocket where a pen constantly goes in and out...just to name a few issues.  Do you understand how dirty a plane is?  All that dirt clings right to that wonderful white.  Let's not forget starch.  The shirt must be starched...must...and I HATE ironing.  Unless Steve is short on time he usually takes care of his uniform, so that makes me happy since I hate to iron.

#3: the tie: Steve has no issues with his tie. Some pilots have issues with them, but Steve is just very used to it that it is no big deal. 

#4: shoes:  When Steve was hired with his current airline he got a good pair of Florsheim shoes, that look something like this

and let me tell you...the best $150 spent!  They are now about 4 years old and still going strong!  Remember, pilots use their feet to steer the plane (I think it is to steer) with the rudder pedals, so shoes get beaten up.  The walk-arounds may be in snowy weather when the ground is covered in snow and slush, so a protected leather is a must.  Oh, and the miles upon miles of walking a pilot can do in a trip just in the airport alone, so the shoes must be comfortable.  Good shoes are a must!

#5 the hat
Here is a young Ben with Daddy's hat:
I know that pilots hate to wear the hat, but I like it.  I think the winter uniform (blazer and hat required) is very traditional and nice.  Seeing a pilot in full uniform is very striking.  Steve's company just merged, so new uniform talk is in the works, and I think pilots are pushing for no hats.  I hope not. 

#6 the roll-aboard.  Steve's suitcase is now 10+ years old.  I hate it.  He loves it.  It is old, broken (but repaired with duct tape), small and worn.  He can't part with it.  I hate it and thinks he should fork over the money and get a new one.  Maybe once all the old generation 737 are out of the fleet will he consider it.  Apparently his suitcase can fit into some closet on the old-gens, or something like that, so why bother.  He mentioned this to me a while ago...maybe all the old planes are out now?  One could hope!

You know what it will take to get a new suitcase?  Him having it really break on a trip to where he has to carry it, not roll, it around for four days.

#7 the flight case.  Those things aren't cheap, but necessary...and heavy!  Have you ever tried to lift one?  Those things are h-e-a-v-y! I actually know a pilot that was out of work for a good while because she was injured lifting it while trying to maneuver it in the cockpit.

Luckily I am driving his car today, and was able to snap some pictures of his flight case since it was in the trunk.  As a side, he gets this question a lot, "what does 26.2 mean?"  Really, I thought that was a know number...like 12 in a dozen. 


Now, this is the thing that I like seeing old and worn.  I think an old and worn flight cases show experience.  I have been know to be a very nervous flier at times, and a worn flight case (and gray hair) helps calm my nerves a bit. I also love the stickers that are often decorating the flight cases.  Let's call the stickers flare.  This flare is the one thing that a pilot can do to make him/herself different from one another. 

#8 the watch:  Steve has his work watch that I gave him after he finished initial training at his current airline
Not the best picture, but the only one I have of the watch.  This was taken our first day back at work and first day at daycare for Ben after he was born.

It is a Timex, I think, and supposedly a pilot watch.  It can do all these fancy calculations for fuel, ect.  And it has something like 20 time zones programmed.  I don't think Steve does anything fancy with this watch, or at least I don't think he does. At least it is a good looking watch.

#9: name badge.  This is a necessity, as it gets to you places you can only go as an employee.  I think he also has cards attached to his name badge that has important numbers/charts that need to be a quick reach away.  It is also necessary to wear this while non-reving so you can be identified. 

This isn't the best picture, but that blue lanyard is what holds his name badge.  This picture was take on the way back from our last vacation. We were actually pulled out of the security line at EWR, even though we were patiently waiting with all the other passengers, and taken into a quick lane...nice perk! Totally felt VIP and loved it.  Not to sound snotty, but we can actually get through security with two kids faster than some people can by themselves.  We know the drill, and we can keep the line going at a quick pace.  I think TSA recognizes this and therefore have no issues putting us through.  Other great airports to use the badge to get through security quickly: MCO, LAS and ORD! And these are just the ones that I have gone through...I am sure there are a ton more.

Well folks, I think that completes his uniform.  I could mention his preference for socks and boxers, but I will spare you all the details. 

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