Barefoot flying, misconceptions and incentives: 5 minutes with a seaplane pilot
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Dressed in casual wear, seaplane pilots are hands-on, calm and friendly. Once they start the engine, they slip off their sandals and steer the small plane barefoot, and on arrival at your destination, they usher passengers out of the flight and help with luggage.
We caught up with deputy chief pilot Captain Mohamed Yasir Jauhary, 50, from Trans Maldivian Airways.
What is a typical day in the life of a seaplane pilot?
A typical day at Trans Maldivian Airways usually lasts from sunrise to sunset. You get busy days and easy days. On a busy day, you arrive at work at 5.30am for a 6am departure and end up doing four to five flights. Your duty period is 13 to 14 hours. Easy days are relaxing where you do one flight of two to three sectors with a long day shutdown at the resort or a return flight.
What are the rewards of the job?
You get to meet different people, sometimes celebrities from various countries. You also get to stay at luxurious resorts for free, and the incentive is good.
And the most challenging part?
We are a Visual Flight Rules operation, which means our operational time is restricted by daylight. The most challenging part is getting the passengers safely to the destination before it gets dark during adverse weather days.
Can you share a few interesting stories about your job?
My most memorable experience was flying over Lhaviyani Atoll at the beginning of my career. The captain took off from Kuredu and flew over the Eastern edge of the atoll. I was awestruck by the beauty of the islands from above.
I've noticed that seaplane pilots do not wear shoes. Is there a reason for that?
Seaplane pilots do not wear shoes as we land in the sea, and it is hard to keep our feet dry as we go about doing our routine duties.
Do you have any other different requirements compared to other pilots on big airlines?
The only different requirement is that we are float-rated and can land on water.
When you are not flying guests around the destination, what do you do to unwind after a long day or when you have the day off?
I usually go for a jog or swim, watch movies and relax with my family.
What is the biggest misconception of being a seaplane pilot?
Most people don't think we are real pilots. Most people visualise pilots as wearing long pants and shirts with a tie. Seaplane pilots dress casually in shorts and slippers.
Get the seaplane experience (watch from the 4-minute mark)
Do you travel a lot? If so, which destinations do you love besides the Maldives?
I do travel, although not as much as I would like to. I love New Zealand. I love the lakes and mountains and there is beautiful scenery everywhere. I like nature a lot.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I would probably be a seasonal pilot. Essentially, this would see me work for six months and using the other six months to travel and spend time with my family. I want to fly as long as I can.
Your advice to people who want to get into aviation?
If you are willing to work hard and enjoy great benefits, then go for it.
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