Training as a fast jet pilot has to be one of the most uncomfortable and stressful things that you can do
I've recently been away from work for a couple of weeks having to take some remaining leave before the deadline of 31 March when all leave resets. I've done a few things; I went on a long hike with the wife, went to see some family - that sort of thing. But when you are away from the cockpit for any period of time you have to 'come down' from the level that you have been operating at. Conversely, before you go back to work you need to re-energise yourself to get back up to speed. This is the same with any job; the more complicated the profession the harder it is to 'switch off' when on holiday. Some people take a few days to fully relax and some need longer. One of my pilots will only take his holidays over two weeks as he says that he can't fully 'switch off' from work with only one. When I was a student pilot I would sometimes not be able to 'switch off' at all or would find that I could be quite relaxed by the Tuesday of my holiday but by the Thursday I was starting to think about the cockpit again and would get worked up about it.
It only takes one failed trip for the instructors' eyes to start looking in your direction and if you don't pass the next trip then you are definitely in trouble.
Read time 10 minutes
In 1983, US Naval Flight Surgeon Frank Dulley wrote a paper entitled 'The Life Style Keys to Flight Deck Performance of the Naval Aviator — Another Window'. The paper presents Dulley's views on the coping mechanisms that the Naval Aviator brings to his occupation. What is so interesting about this paper is that it highlights the attributes of a fast jet pilot and makes uncomfortable reading for those it describes.
A fast jet pilot is normally male, in fact only 11% of the RAF is female (the highest number of all the UK's armed forces) - how many fast jet pilots are currently women? I can count 8 out of approximately 160 active pilots that I know of.