Before You Marry ‘Pilot Pete’… (Three Pilot Wife Tests to Make Sure She is Ready for This Fabulous Life of Jet Setting)

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Oh, Pilot Pete. There’s just something about a guy in uniform that sets the ladies’ hearts to beating double time – especially when that uniform sports a crisp white shirt, some shiny bars on the shoulders, and 400 tons of sexy metal that obeys the commands of his fingertips. Grrrrrrr, baby. Very grrrrr.

I’ll be the first to vouch for the undeniable hotness factor of a Pilot in (and out) of uniform. After all, I’m married to one. He’s ssssssssssmokin‘! So yeah, I get it!

But, before you marry ‘Pilot Pete’… Do you really know what you are getting into?

Now, I have to be completely honest with you. I’ve seen exactly zero episodes of the reality television series, The Bachelor. I guess for me, after spending the past three plus years mentoring marriages and seeing exactly how much pain and devastation broken relationships can produce, I’m not keen on a show that’s whole basis is a contractual union of two virtual strangers whose entire relationship is founded on lies, jealousy, casual sexuality, contrived dates, stereotypes, and television ratings. I’ve sopped up the tears of far too many broken marriages to find the premise of the show cutesy or even remotely attractive. Did you know that of the last 23 seasons of matches, only 2 relationships remain intact (that’s less than 9%, for those who are counting, far below the national average). Those are disgusting odds and pretty much say everything I need to know about the show. It’s really hard as an advocate for marriage to get off on someone else’s inevitable marital failure.

So no, I don’t watch it. Now don’t get your epaulets in a wad, I’m not judging anyone who does enjoy watching. I don’t care. It’s just not my thing. Each to her (or his, as it may be) own, I guess.

However, watch it or not, a girl can hardly be an active member of the Pilot Wife community at large without at least knowing who our dear, beloved, aviation brother, Delta pilot Peter Weber is. Or ‘Pilot Pete’, as he is so widely known….because, you know, he’s a pilot. How…charming.

I’ll be frank, there’s a lot of grumbling going on among our ranks about how these women on the show have no idea what they are getting themselves into (they don’t)…along with a lot of sniggering about their gross misconceptions regarding life as a Pilot Wife (the notion that jet setting is a regularly enjoyed activity of the Pilot Wife Life apparently comes up quite frequently among the contestants of the show).

My initial knee-jerk response to all of this is to be annoyed and a little contemptuous too. After all, I absolutely hate it when people misrepresent our beautiful community, and that stereotypical nonsense causes a lot of problems in our circles to boot. But then I realize that I’m also a little sad about it all because, in a situation where only 9% of unions make it to begin with, marrying a pilot while maintaining a grossly skewed comprehension of what this lifestyle truly entails is basically relational suicide. It hurts my heart to known what is in store for their marriage.

Plus, we seriously don’t need the media force feeding the public more sensationalized stereotypes about our lives, thank you very much. If you knew how many women have contacted me since the beginning of this dumb show asking me how to ‘snag a pilot for themselves’… BLECH. Makes me vomit in my mouth a little, that. They are human beings who deserve a supportive, loving, understanding spouse, not some prize fish to be reeled in and hung on your wall. What is wrong with this world, anyway?

Here’s the thing, though. It’s not completely their fault, those women on the show. We snort in disgust at their sorely misconstrued preconceptions about the glitz and glamour involved in marrying a pilot. We are contrite about their preconceived notions about our lives. But how could they possibly understand what this life truly entails without experiencing it firsthand? It’s nearly impossible! I mean, I actually did my homework and thought I knew what I was getting into. [insert maniacal laughter here] Not so much!

It’s not like they have the usual transition period of dating a pilot where they get to see life up close and personal before making the decision to spend the rest of their lives with him. It’s not like they have a long and loving friendship with their man to carry them through the inevitable tough times. It’s not like they have a community of amazing PWs to love them and guide them through the transition and the nuances of this life.

For all intents and purposes they are dating the image of a pilot that has been carefully contrived, groomed, and polished by the producers of the show for the best public hurrah. It’s glossy and pretty on the outside, sure, but man is it going to be messy on the inside when ‘she’ gets in there! And outside of those controlled parameters, all they really have are endless movies, social media, and never-ending stereotypes to guide them in their understanding and thinking regarding life in aviation. We all know how desperately sensationalized and wrong those all are!

It’s kind of hard to hate them, when you think of it that way. In fact, I pity them to some degree. The Pilot Wife mentor in me wants to help them understand and make an educated decision. As cliche and hokey as it all it, I really, really want it to work out for this pilot and his future wife; after all, he is and she (whoever she might end up being) will be members of our beautiful aviation family. And that’s what we do, right?

To that end, I have determined three Pilot Wife reality tests that each of the remaining contestants should undergo to make sure they are prepared for this fabulous life – because, though it is not what they actually think it is, it is nonetheless fabulous in its own way. It’s a fierce life and a fierce love. I love Pilot Kevin (snickers) and wouldn’t trade him for the world. It might not always be perfect, but he is perfect for me. I want our new Sista coming into our ranks to experience the true joys, and yes trials, of life as a Pilot Wife – the big, breathtaking, colorful canvas that depicts our lives – with eyes wide open!

TEST ONE: JET SETTING NON-REV STYLE

For test number one, we need our ladies to understand what ‘jet setting’, as they have so glamorously dubbed our travel benefits, non-rev style really looks like. There’s a little big difference between their imagination and the truth. So here’s how it goes down.

We will drop her off in an unfamiliar airport. Let’s go with EWR, since it is sooooo highly regarded. (Just don’t drink the water there, honey!) Her job is to make it to LAX (she is going to have to learn those airport codes, after all, as they will soon be everyday banter in the home) with a connecting flight at ORD. That should be really fun! However, her first flight at 2000 is oversold by 22 and there is some WX moving in. She mistakenly checked her bag (because newbie mistake!) and it has already gone off to the great state of CA without her. This particular non-rev outing is going to include an 18-hour nightmare stint in ORD because of the WX issues compounded with an unexpected MX problem. Oh, and just to make this more realistic, she’s going to have to do it all with 3 small children all under the age of 6 clinging to her. I’m sure we can loan her some of our little co-pilots for training purposes. Don’t worry though! Pete has promised to catch a flight to LAX after his trip ends and will meet her once she gets there. Let’s not forget that she will be singularly responsible for packing all three kids as well as herself, making arrangements for the dogs that are left behind, and…ah shoot! She didn’t get the PW memo! She only packed enough diapers for the expected length of the flight (hahaha!) and the 2-year-old already had two blowouts. By the way, they don’t sell diapering gear at most airports, so she’s going to have to get creative. Oh…and just to make things interesting, the baby is going to vomit in her hair and on her blouse about three hours into the fun. So she gets to do it all smelling like soured breast milk.

OBJECTIVE: MAKE IT TO HER DESTINATION WITH SANITY INTACT. EXTRA POINTS FOR ARRIVING WITH ALL THREE KIDS.

Ready, set, GOOD LUCK!

TEST TWO: ANNIVERSARY DATE NIGHT

We have to set this one up in advance. I’m sorry, but for reality purposes she is not going to be able to see Pete for the five days leading up to said date. Also, he just upgraded and is on reserve and is also commuting, so she will only get to see him 24 hours out of every five days for the three months leading up to the big night, and he wasn’t home for Thanksgiving or Christmas. He’s obviously on a trip right now, so she will actually need to make all the plans for that big date including reserving a table, purchasing concert tickets, booking a hotel, and finding a sitter on her own. But that’s okay! That’s just what we do. She is SUPER excited about the date because she has been pretty lonely lately. She didn’t expect it to all be this hard. She even went out and bought a brand new dress and something sexy to wear under it for the occasion. Chatting with the kids just isn’t the same as having an adult to talk to, and none of her friends understand the lifestyle, so they have all pretty much stopped asking her to hang out anyway (it’s annoying to them that she cannot RSVP until three days before an event…and then has to cop out last minute; go figure). Anyway, this is the night she has been looking forward to for weeks! FINALLY some quality time with her special man, Pilot Pete. The day of the big date rolls around and she wakes up excited because he will be home by lunch. She picks up the phone to check for the good morning text from her beloved that keeps her going through the days, excited when she sees his name on the notification screen. She clicks on the message and reads it, eager with anticipation! “Sorry, honey. The entire IT system went down last night and I timed out in PHL. Not going to make it home in time for our date. Can we just reschedule for next month when I have time off? Oh, and they’re offering double pay in open time because of this mess, so I went ahead and picked up another trip. I know we had that thing for the kids next week, hope you don’t mind. Love you. See you next Wednesday!”

OBJECTIVE: NOT BE RESENTFUL, HURT, AND ANGRY WHILE SELLING CONCERT TICKETS, CANCELING RESERVATIONS AND SITTERS, AND RETURNING DRESS.

Ready, set, GOOD LUCK!

TEST THREE: PILOT WIFE LAW

We can all attest to the fact that if it is going to go wrong, it will go wrong while he is on a trip and unavailable for consultation. It’s called Pilot Wife Law. It takes a strong cookie to handle everything life throws at you while he’s on the road. We need to make sure she’s up to the task ahead!

For test three, she is going to wake up Sunday morning at 6 a.m. (because this stuff also always happens when nothing is open) to the sound of the dog going absolutely nuts. Heart pounding, she gets up to check it out and finds that the water heater burst in the middle of the night and she has an inch of water in her bathroom and hallway, soaking all her brand new carpets and padding…and it’s still gushing. She’s got to figure out how to fix all of that. On her way to grab her clothes, she will step in the dead, regurgitated rat that the cat ate and then vomited back up in her living room in four places this morning. On the carpet. It’s always on the carpet. When she tries to go get the supplies she needs to fix everything, she will find that it’s pouring rain outside and that she ran over a nail yesterday and has a completely flat tire on the rear passenger side. Of course, the car is parked outside because Pete’s project mustang (lovingly known as The Mistress) is in the garage where it is safe. Wait…nope! She cannot call the pilot for ideas or comfort either because he is in the air, and there is nothing he can do about it anyway. It will just stress him out and he needs to focus on keeping the skies safe right now. She is completely on her own on this one and time is of the essence. Oh, and she has to do it all with a case of the flu. Because, you know, that’s how we roll.

OBJECTIVE: SURVIVE

Ready, set, GOOD LUCK!

So as I figure it, whichever of the contestants pass these three reality tests with ‘flying’ colors will be the lady who is most fit to be a bride for our beloved Pilot Pete (must we really call him that?). These scenarios will [help] set her up for success at this thing called aviation life and ensure that she really understands that, while completely wonderful and absolutely worthwhile, being married to a pilot is not all about jet setting around the world visiting exotic locations for free on the company dime.

It’s about loving another human being so deeply that you are willing to support his dream despite the frustrations and nuances of the career. It’s about being a strong, independent woman who can handle whatever life throws at her (and who has her community for those times she can’t!) when he is away. It’s about learning to love being with him and being alone (i.e. ‘me time’) in equal measure. It’s about learning to roll with the punches and being okay with his ever-fluctuating schedules. It’s about finding your tribe and making the most of the beautiful life that we have been given. It’s about being alone on holidays, understanding how difficult it all is for him too, helping the kids to adjust and love their daddy despite his absence (if you have them), holding the fort down, seeking joy in the chaos, and still finding time to F.L.Y. – to first love yourself – so that your marriage thrives despite it all.

It’s about choosing. Choosing to trust him when he is thousands of miles away surrounded by women you don’t know. Choosing to fight for your marriage on the days when the turbulence is quite frankly overwhelming you. Choosing to seek joy and happiness in this life because he is the one you vowed to do life with, for better or worse. Choosing to love, support, and encourage one another in complete reciprocity.

And most of all, choosing to love an amazing man who happens to be a pilot, not choosing a man because he is a pilot. Careers change, people get older, circumstances shift, feelings ebb and fiow, aviation life fluctuates unexpectedly. Choose the man, not the career.

Honey, listen to me very, very closely. It’s about marrying PETE…not ‘Pilot’ Pete. If you don’t understand that integral difference, you are not yet ready to take on this life.

Oh, and by the way, someone please, please give the lucky winning lady my card and the information for this sweet community. She’s going to need us sooner than later.

Blue skies and tailwinds,

Angelia (a fellow woman who is married to an amazing man who just happens to be a pilot)

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**header photo Twitter, the Bachelor

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3 Comments

  1. Loved this. So very true. Found myself giggling out loud, because it is right on. Did not know we had a Pilots Wife Law, but have definitely lived it many a times. Thank you for writing such real articles.

  2. Very well put. It’s so hard for anyone not living this life to understand what is truly involved. I can look back on the snake in the living room, scorpions in the bedroom, beavers chewing down crepe myrtles with Christmas lights still twinkling and laugh (NOW). Yup still giggling about the water heater blow ups, leaks and death. Sick kids, sick pets, broken cars all made me stronger and it didn’t kill me.

  3. Such a great post. Spot on! Really enjoyed reading it!

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