Six Typical Pilot Stereotypes

I feel like pilot stereotypes have been all around me lately, hence the motivation for this post. 

I have been dating my pilot husband since 1999, and married to him since 2003.  By this point in the game, I think I have every right to sound off on what I have been hearing lately.

Let's dig right into the typical stereotypes we all hear...

#1. Pilots have a huge ego
Let me set two things straight:
Ego = self assurance
Egotistical = self centered and self absorbed

Steve has incredible self-assurance and self-esteem.  By definition I suppose that means he has an ego.  I have always thought this, even from day one when we met.  It is one of the things I love most about him.  The man is confident in himself.   He doesn't take shit from anyone and doesn't give a shit what others think of him.  He is who he is, love it or not.  He is that sure of himself and who he is.     

Folks, this IS what you want from your pilot...the man that is flying your ass 37K above the ground.  You want him to be confident in himself and his skills.

Now for the egotistical guy, which, by the way, you can find in any occupation, is an ass who is so full of himself that his head takes up all the space in the room.  His air makes you choke, practically.  Steve doesn't have an ounce of this in him.   

Steve is not self absorbed at all.  He is not narcissistic, nor is he selfish.  I don't believe the man ever has been.  In fact, I have the strong sense that most pilots aren't this way.  I know a fair number of pilots, and most fall along the same lines as Steve.  The guys I know are good guys, family guys, down to earth, and aren't egotistical at all.  Of course, there are exception to this, and those exceptions, I am sure, give the whole bunch a bad rap. 

#2 Pilots are cheaters
For the record, Steve has never cheated on me.  And, I am sure of this. 

For the record, there is only one pilot that I know of, personally, who has had an affair....and, I know a lot of pilots. 

For the record, I actually know of MORE pilot wives that have cheated on their husbands.  A pilot wife knows the coming and goings of our husbands, making it very easy to cheat.  I have said, on numerous occasions, that it would be very easy for me to cheat on Steve.  Not that I ever would...for the record, I have never cheated on Steve.

I have said it many times, cheating can happen no matter what you do for a living. Perhaps the pilot gets pinned to this stereotype because of their constant distance from home and their constant stays in hotel rooms. 

If you are lookin' for some on the side, anyone can fall into this category. 

#3 Pilots have a woman in every city
Well, if this were the case, then my husband must be getting laid a lot.  Good for him.

Now, I am sure this is true in rare occasions, but I am quite positive that the vast majority of pilots do not fall into this stereotype.

If he is flying regional, he is working 5 legs a day and is probably so exhausted at the end of that day that he can't even make a decision about what to eat for dinner, let alone have the energy to put out for a gal. 

And if he is mainline, that means he is older and getting it a couple times a week at home is plenty.  No need to get it even more while on the road.  Plus, with age sex doesn't come as easily as it did when we were younger.  Gone are the days of doin' it a couple times a night, just because you looked at the other person the right way.  Now are the days where the mood has to be *just* right before anything can happen.  Yes, us women are complicated creatures.  That complexity isn't always easy to handle...making it twice as complex for the man with a woman on the road, and one at home.  Who wants that?

#4 Bad dresser
I feel the need to break this down into two sections: dressing on the road & dressing when home.

Is Steve a bad dresser on the road?  Perhaps.  Anytime I have joined Steve on an overnight I was sure to pack an outfit that was acceptable to me, so I haven't seen him on a "true" overnight.  In Steve's case, his roll-aboard is not only filled with layover clothes but also with workout clothes.  So, he will often do double duty with running shoes.  But let me just make the point that those running shoes are Brooks...
working out on the road = stinky shoes!
Thank goodness for bleach!

and those Brooks are a sweet $100 a pair.  Not that money equals style, but I am making the point that he surely would pack casual shoes if he had the room.  Don't forget to add his other running/workout gear like shorts, tops, light jacket, and possibly a water belt if he is training for a marathon.  These items can really add up quickly in a roll-aboard.  Let's not forget about a couple overnight shirts and jeans and an extra uniform....he only has so much space in that bag.

Now, let's talk about the effort it takes to look good in his (new) uniform. Which is how most people see pilots, anyway.  Sure, maybe he wears running shoes and casual tops to go out for dinner and drinks, but he makes the effort to look good while at work.  His trousers are tailored, as well as his a mere $200.  His fitted shirts fit him perfectly.  He is also sporting some new shoes, which are much more dressy than he has worn in the past.  And so that people get the full scope, shoes need to be waterproof so that walk-arounds outside don't soak his socks.  The shoes have to be very comfortable, since pilots do a ton of walking.  Not to mention, pilots use their feet to fly and those rudder pedals sure can beat a shoe up good.  Oh, and don't metal shanks, which make security a bit easier.  Your pickin's get slim when you have to account for all the above.
testing out his new work shoes

He has made the effort, and let me say that he looks quite handsome in his (new) uniform.  Believe me, I have seen my share of pilots that I sure don't want flying my plane...untucked shirt, dingy shirt, pants too long, pants too short, wrinkled shirt, ect.  In my head, an unkempt pilot is a pilot that doesn't have his shit together.  When you see Steve, you want him flying your plane. 

As for dressing at home, believe me I have had to work on him.  At first he was a piece of work.  I totally blame this on the fact that his uniform dictated what he wore, and otherwise he just didn't give it any thought.  Then 'yours truly' entered his life, and made sure he ass looked good.  I used to actually lay out clothes for him (for church or Holiday dinners, ect), but he's got it now.  He knows what looks good, and what looks good on him. 

#5 Cheap
My cheap husband drives a BMW.  Used.  My cheap husband lives in a home that was purchased at $80 sqft.  Foreclosure.  My cheap husband is very hesitant of me quitting my job, even if I go back to graduate school.  I bring in a steady paycheck.  My cheap husband had no hesitation when I told him my chiropractic treatments would cost $330 a month, for the next three months.  Anything to help my pain.  My cheap husband 'adopts a family' for Christmas, and gives Christmas presents to a family in need.  Teaching our children the importance of giving.  My cheap husband tips at least 20% at restaurants. Of course. My cheap husband maxed out his retirement this year.  Sweet.  My cheap husband just dropped $5K for a Disney cruise.  Importance of family togetherness and travel. 

My point in all these examples is that Steve spends his/our money on things that mean the most to him/us.  Could he drop $30 for dinner on an overnight?  Yes, he could, and he has.  But, he chooses not to make a habit of this, so that we can go on Disney cruises.  He is very careful and wise with our money. 

Yeah, I know there are some cheap pilots out there.  But, have a bit of mercy on them.  These guys can be furloughed in the drop of a hat, and then good luck on finding another flying job.  Or how about contract negotiations, and the fear of a strike!  These guys have a fear in the back of their mind that their paycheck could be gone tomorrow.  This, I believe, is a mentality that only people in aviation can understand.  These guys think differently about job security, and that translates into their behavior with money. 

#6 They talk constantly about flying
False!  This couldn't be further from the truth in our house.

Here is a typical conversation about Steve most recent trip...

Me: How was your trip?
Steve: Fine.

Me: How was your Captain?
Steve: Fine.

Me: Was your plane full?
Steve. Yeah.

Me: (thinking to myself) well, I won't be getting much out of him tonight...better stop while I am ahead.

And that is about it.  And I am being 100% accurate in this conversation.  Steve leaves work at work.  When he is home he likes being disconnected from work.  Steve really doesn't like talking shop with me.  I am his haven from work.

Now, there are four ways to get him to shop talk...

** when a very specific situation happens
     For example, my sister was flying into IAD for Thanksgiving and they had 2 go-arounds.  This spurred conversations about wind sheer.  But, when the conversation started he was sure to let out a number of heavy sighs because he knew what he was getting into (teaching me all about wind sheer and warnings).  To his surprise, 3 questions later (and very good ones, I might add) and I got what I needed and the conversation was done. 

** get some booze in him
     Steve will always talk more, both work and non-work topics, the more he drinks.  I have to admit, I really do like our summer nights on our back porch - candles lit, warm breezes, and fun crew/work stories that I haven't heard before. (Catching Up)

** when he is anxious about something
     Like the time we had to drive to his parents hometown when his dad had a stroke.  The drive started at midnight, with a 6 weeks old in the car, and HEAVY fog.  He talked shop the entire 2+ hour drive.

** lastly, get him around some other pilots and the pilot side surely comes out (Pilot Dork). 

And let me make the point, that he will actually avoids talking shop even when the topic nearly smacks him in the face.  I have a couple examples of this in my post Do You Know Who You Are Talking To?  He will even make a point to cover up his uniform to avoid any attention (like the time when he purposefully wore a jacket, zipped all the way to the top, while putting our son on the school bus). 

These are the top six stereotypes I hear time and time again with pilots.  And, Steve doesn't fall into any of these.  Now, isn't that ironic.  I would love to hear any more that are out there...and give my take on them...


  1. I do find that a lot of people like to make comments about the "stereotypes" (specifically the cheating / womanizing ones) and it gets old quick. One of the doctors at my hospital once said to me, "Oh you know what they say about pilots and layover cities.. a girl in every one". I replied by saying, "Well you know what they say about doctors and on-call rooms..." - He didn't have much to say after that, ha!
    I agree about the ego vs egotistical point - you want a pilot who is confident and there is a difference between that and cocky. Still working on the clothing part for my boyfriend... although I will say his uniform fits him like a glove and he looks great when he heads to work. Very important I think! As for the "cheapness" you hit the nail on the head. It is being smart with money in a world where their work is volatile and you can never be too sure about the security of your pay check (not to mention paying off those student loans to become a pilot in the first place). Another great post - thank you for sharing! Happy Holidays to your family!

    1. your come back was awesome! I bet he didn't say much after that!

      Keep working on the look many years with Steve, but he finally has it down!

      Happy Holidays to you and your family too!!

  2. Really neat to hear your perspective! Just trying to get used to my Andrew being away so much (Corporate Pilot. so 8 days on, 4 off) its tiring, I have a 6 month at home. He was away right over Christmas this year as well, so just starting to get used to those realities.. sigh. Thanks for your writing :)

    1. You will get used to all this...and the more it happens, the less it stings.

  3. I Love your blog Joanna. I've been seeing my pilot boyfriend for 2 years and we were thinkign marriage... everyone has been scaring me about pilots these very stereotypes. This is exactly what I needed to read!! Love it!

    1. Yeah, those stereotypes are mostly not true. And what do others know anyway? Most people don't know a pilot, but when it is time to talk about a pilot they sure do have a lot of things to say. I remember a woman at work (college internship) that told me "oh, you better be careful" when I mentioned I was dating a pilot. She couldn't have been further from the truth.

      Thank you for your kind words.


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