Sunday, May 29, 2011

The airlines are cheating pilots out of their pensions and a fair wage and no one is stopping them. Corporate greed has now extended to the safety of us in the air and on the ground. Where are the Congressional hearings on this one? Non-existent Now Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger who is famous for landing a airplane on the Hudson River in New York has become a spokesman of sort for the airline workers. He is a former air Force Captain and Commercial Pilot recently retired but is now an aviation and safety expert making appearances everywhere.

He is regarded as a hero of sorts because after flying into a flock of geese thus shutting down the engines he managed to actually fly the plane and balance the wings perfectly to land the plane on the water in Manhattan and save every life on the plane. No one can forget the image of the plane floating on the water with the passengers patiently waiting for rescue boats while the are standing on the wings.
Yes, rightfully so, he is a hero for such an unusual feet but I think all the pilots deserve praise for each day doing the same route safely. Somehow they manage to avoid the birds and land eventually in an airport. There is not enough praise for the other pilots that land us safely every day with no drama. The experienced pilots are becoming a lost entity due to lack of funding from the airlines for these highly skilled workers.
Democrats and Republicans are fans of Sully’s landings. He was featured in the Michael Moore movie “Capitalism A Love Story” where he testified in front of Congress that he would NOT recommend for anyone’s child to be a pilot. Noooooooooooooooooo! When I was a little boy I wanted to earn my wings on a flight and was proud to wear the wings medal that was pinned to my shirt through the flight. Must every good role model be distorted and reduced to nothing?
He stressed that when anyone leaves a career they hope to leave it in better shape than when they started. He regrets that the aviation industry is in shambles despite the efforts of thousands of pilots. Even him as a hero of sorts had his pension terminated-gone. They have cut unions and were attacked for more than ten years. His pay and others have been cut by 40-60 percent.
Society no longer values the function of stewardesses and pilots as safety personnel. Sully was recently featured in a rock video and he does not get respect from the industry. The past two years since the amazing landing has made him famous. A most recent near disaster was the Southwest plane that had part of the top of the plane fall off and that pilot managed to land that thing safely.
What is happening now is that a lot of the flying is being farmed out to regional carriers. This is a way to hire incompetent people for incredibly low wages. There was a recent crash in Buffalo N.Y. where the pilot was only 24 years old, slept on the floor in 2 airport lounges to make the flight and the crew was making less than 20 thousand a year. It is now cheaper to fly than in any time in history because the air lines are cutting back on wages.
The pilot in the Buffalo crash was inexperienced. He never had training on a flight simulator that could replicate the stick pusher activating. He never saw that form of piloting before. Instead he pulled back and lowered the nose and could not keep the wings from stalling. Sully says that he found out that the pilot was only making $16,000 a year. One of the crew members couldn’t afford to live near the airport and was commuting and could not afford to pay for a hotel room near the airport to be well rested for the trip.
These are not unusual stories lately, they are becoming the norm. When they say, “Have A Safe Trip” when you board a flight, they mean it. Be prepared to use that fart smelling seat as your flotation device because the Scully’s have all retired without a pension.

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