On a moonless or cloudy night, over deep water, without visual reference and out of normal VHF radio communications range with air traffic control, you are alone. Having charge of all souls on board, while always a heavy responsibility, feels heavier.
I “grew up” in my aviation career in Illinois, and I think it was a fantastic place to learn. One reason is that the weather changes often and has quite a bit of variability. As a pilot learning, it’s good to learn that weather conditions can be partly cloudy with light winds when you depart, and by the time you get to the practice area, a thunderstorm could have popped up.
Jumpseating for free (a great pilot privilege) was the way to go! In addition, when we sat up front, we found it fun and interesting to see how pilots at the other airlines do things. So, we thought nothing of it when we decided on a Hawaiian beach wedding for $800 all-in. We planned on jumpseating there.
There appeared to be five days on the itinerary for our four-day cruise. Counting the days… recounting them… uh oh. Too many days. We are now in the middle of the ocean, with no communication capability whatsoever, and had no way of telling our new company that we simply could not make it back for work the next week.
You can go your whole career chasing the rabbit; chasing the airline, chasing the airplane, chasing the seat, always being junior. You can go your whole career and miss everything. You can miss your kids growing up, your marriage, your friends, holidays, weekend events, miss your life.