It is said that you never forget your first time. So it was with my first flight as an airline pilot years ago. I remember it as if it were just yesterday. The road had been long and arduous. Many years and thousands of flight hours privately, in the military, as a civilian flight instructor, and other jobs led up to being hired. The training was long and challenging. Not all my comrades had finished it. And so I approached my very first day as an actual airline pilot with a mixture of excitement and anticipation.

Now, I reasoned, it is all downhill. Cake, as it were. As a fully trained First Officer, I had nothing to fear, but fear itself. So, I strap myself into the mighty steed for a morning turn to the Dominican Republic. I am confident in my skills as a pilot, resilient in my fortitude to face the worst that can be thrown at me, and determined, above all, never to let the passengers see me sweat. I am displaying a haughty yet humble “devil may care” ambiance, befitting my elevated station, to the mere mortals surrounding me (with the exception of the Captain who, of course, I bow and scrape to).

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