Have you ever been on a super long flight, around eight hours or longer, and wondered what the pilots are doing the whole time?
One TikTok user recently made a video about his questions for pilots who are in charge of long flights, and one pilot was kind enough to give some answers.
In his video, the confused TikTok user asked what pilots do during long-haul flights, believing they only have to take off and land the plane and, therefore, have a lot of downtime.
Gary Baumgardner (@garybpilot), an airline pilot and TikTok creator, clarified that there actually is a lot more going on in the cockpit during a long-haul flight than one may think.
“Everybody thinks we’re like Homer Simpson up there; there’s just like a big button, we push one button called the auto-pilot, and we do nothing,” says Gary.
“Just remember, the auto-pilot is a tool, the way a bat is a tool for a Major League baseball player when he wants to go hit a home run. If you’re flying along and a thunderstorm shows up, the auto-pilot cannot just automatically direct you out of that.”
Gary goes on to explain that pilots always have to be alert and prepared to take on any flying challenges, whether or not they’re using auto-pilot. Additionally, pilots are responsible for descending, turning, logging, communicating with air traffic control, etc.
However, for super long flights, one pilot is not responsible for staying awake and flying the entire way. That would be a lot of work for one person!
Gary explains that for most airlines, for flights that are over eight hours, there are three pilots who can switch off and take over for each other when needed. If a flight is over 12 hours long, there are usually four pilots on board.