Flight secrets: Pilot shares why ‘stress levels are higher’ before plane even takes off

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Pilots have flights all under control, or so one hopes. Even the very best pilots still have days when stress gets the best of them. Pilot Patrick Smith has shared the part of the flight that can make him the most anxious.

Interestingly, it’s not when you might think as it’s not when the plane is airborne.

In is 2013 book Cockpit Confidential, Smith said that taxiing to the runway could be surprisingly tricky.

“The hardest part, sometimes, is just getting between the parking stand and the cabin,” Smith wrote.

“Taxiing for takeoff feels pretty leisurely in the cabin, but this is one of the busiest phases of flight.”

Smith explained that pilots have lots of work to do at this very vital stage.

“There are several checklists to run, weight, and performance data to enter and verify and so on, all the while trying to navigate what, at many airports, is a bewildering snarl of twists and turns (Charles de Gaulle in Paris and Madrid’s Barajas Airport are two of the most difficult) as ground controllers bark instructions at you.”

Smith added: “It’s noisy and hectic.

“My stress levels are higher during taxi-out than at any other time.”

The pilot also said that the materials they use can often let them down.

“Making everything worse, the charts we navigate with on the ground are terrible,” he wrote.

“At night or when the weather is down, finding your way around can take a surprising level of concentration.”

Smith also revealed in Cockpit Confidential what makes an airport “challenging.”

He wrote: “What makes an airport challenging is usually one of three things, either alone or in combination: runway length, traffic and surrounding terrain.”

Travellers leaving or arriving at certain airports should perhaps be slightly more apprehensive.

Smith identified LaGuardia, Washington-Reagan, Chicago Midway and Sao Polo’s Conghas as having “heavy traffic and stubby runways,” making them much scarier.

He added: “Many Latin American, Himalayan or Rocky Mountain airport feature complicated arrival and departure patterns due to nearby peaks.”

Turbulence is not something that sparks stress in pilots.

And, a pilot previously revealed to Express.co.uk, that turbulence should never concern fliers either.

“In all honesty, passengers should never worry about turbulence,” he said.

“The aircraft is designed to take the stress and strain of turbulence. For example, it’s like designing a car with good enough suspension to drive over a rough surface road with potholes.”

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