In Portrait: Meet the Pilot, Manuel (28) from Mexico

„And what is your job?“ – A frequently asked question that brings up quite often surprising and interesting answers. In Portrait will give you the opportunity to meet people from all around the world that turned their passions and love for traveling into a job or a service to others.

Manuel, a young ambitious man from Mexico, is definitely used to surprised reactions and astonishment when it comes to introducing himself to others. Indeed, the opportunities are truthfully rare to meet pilots, unless one doesn’t work at an airport or as a flying attendant. One reason more that Her Travel Diaries was happy to talk with him about this exceptional and fascinating profession as well his view on it.


HTD: Manuel, you have been working as an airline pilot in Austria for almost seven years. Which are the most frequent questions people ask you, when finding out you are a pilot?

The two most FAQ I get to hear are if I visit many different places and if I have had any problems on board during my career. Regarding the first question, the quick answer is yes. But for the current economic environment, we have much less overnights and lots of double flights on the same day. In regard to the second question, I am very thankful that up today I have never experienced any emergency situation while flying, opposite to what we experience every three months in the flight simulation, where dealing with abnormal and emergency situations is normal.

HTD: When and why did you decide to become a pilot?

For me this choice was something „natural“ as my father himself is a pilot. It was already my childhood dream, so the decision was pretty much taken long time ago.

HTD: What do you love most about your job?

This is quite difficult to answer in a few words. One of the things I love most, is the way how, in a rather indirect manner, I get to help people: families going on holidays, children going to visit their grandparents, people on business trips, ill people on the way to get medical attention, just to name a few. Something more personal are the wonderful and sometimes unique views you can enjoy as a pilot. There is a joke among pilots saying that every airplane, regardless of the airline or model, has only two real first class seats: And those are even for free and reserved for us.

HTD: What do you like less about your job?

Like every other job, also mine has pros and cons. You have to adapt sometimes to slightly unusual schedules, like flying throughout the night, some really early shifts or working over the weekend.

HTD: How does your job affect your traveling habits in your free time?

I tend to pack for example what is just strictly necessary or to be a bit too relaxed at the airport regarding the time. As a pilot, the plane will always have to wait for you, but not if you are a passenger…

HTD: A particular adventure you have had when flying?

Just one day before Christmas, I had a landing in the Russian steppe in the middle of the night. The airport was already closed. We were actually supposed to stay overnight, but as the personal didn’t have a Visa to enter the country, it took many hours to clear the situation. We finally got a bit of sleep, but when we returned to the airplane, we found it covered with a 5 cm layer from the snow storm in the night. Two hours and 2.000 liters of de-icing fluid later, we were finally ready to take off – and to arrive just on time at home for Christmas: in the evening of the 24th of December!

HTD: What would you recommend somebody who wants to become a pilot?

Go for it and do your job with passion! It is full of beautiful moments and advantages.

HTD: Which advice would you give somebody who considers to go for any job that is based on traveling?

Traveling so much can easily seem as a time that is „lost“. But don’t let all this time just pass by. Take books with you: they are very good travel companions. Or use some of the time to think about others or even to pray.

HTD: Thank you, Manuel, for your time and this interesting insight into your job and motivation! (ger)

Pictures from the online HTD photo exhibition „Beauty from Above. Perspectives of a Pilot“ (August 2015)

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