It may be increasingly difficult to have a peek inside a cockpit, thanks to heightened security concerns, but with more and more pilots detailing their lives on social media it feels like we have never been closer to the people in charge of our planes.
One such pilot is Eva Claire, who flies Boeing 737s around Europe from her base at Barcelona for an unnamed airline. She also has 36,000 Instagram followers.
Here, she explains her average day:
I work blocks of five days in a row, and after each block I am off for four days. I'll have a block of earlies - take off around 6.15am then back to base around 4pm after two or four flights - then after my days off, a block of lates - reporting to base around 1pm, or as late as 7pm, and back home by midnight after two or four flights. I love lates. I am definitely not a morning person.
What time do you wake up?
A typical day on earlies is alarm at 3.30am. Shower, black coffee, into uniform, drive to the airport, prepare the flight in the crew room at the airport, check the weather, special instructions, meet the crew, then it's either two or four flights. On lates my alarm will go at 9am - that is definitely a lie-in. When I'm on standby I sometimes treat myself and don't put any alarm on.
What do you have for breakfast?
On earlies I just have black coffee, which is a must, in bed while I slowly try to wake up, or coffee and some yoghurt with muesli. I always prepare a good lunch on earlies so I don't have to cook when I get home. On lates and days off it is always different - sometimes yoghurt, sometimes a smoothie or eggs and avocado. Always with lots of coffee.
How do you get to the airport?
I live in the centre of Barcelona and operate from Barcelona El Prat (BCN) so it's about a 20 minute drive in my old little Opel Corsa. I change before I leave the house and travel in my uniform. Black shoes, uniform pants, white blouse, tie, and a keycord with my work badgers. In my flight bag I bring my iPad and all my food and water for the day.
Where do you usually fly?
If I start in Barcelona I always come back the same day so I will be home and not overnight somewhere else. Sometimes I work a week elsewhere in Europe, which I really like, such as Marrakech or Palma in Majorca, and usually stay some days extra to enjoy the city or area. I will then start the day in Marrakech and also land back there so then I'll stay in a hotel or rental apartment.
We have a lot of routes through Europe. The shortest is to Ibiza and the longest is to the Canary Islands. We fly to Germany, Poland, the UK, Ireland, Belgium and France, but my favourite routes are to Scandinavia. Nice long flights with quiet Scandi airspace, good air traffic controllers and pretty views.
Morning 🤗🤗🤗! I'd like to share a quote with you: 'The distance between dreams and reality is called discipline.' - my personal mantra during pilot training, during the hunt for an airline job, during the B737 training, and now working towards 4 stripes 👩✈️. A good mantra while working towards basically anything ^^ Get to your goals y'all 💪🏻!
Do you have any pre-flight rituals?
I never fly without having at least one large coffee beforehand.
What's your favourite part of the flight?
The approach and landing. It is the most interesting in terms of energy management of the plane and the business of the airspace around us. During cruising there's always time to chat with my colleague on the flight deck.
What do you do when you arrive at your destination?
Prepare for the return flight. It is the most busy time as we usually have only 25 minutes to turn around, in which we finish the paperwork of the inbound flight, check the route and weather for the return, decide on the plan of action and fuel, make an external inspection, set up the route and departure and brief how we'll fly.
Do you have a favourite destination?
Barcelona as it means I'm home. I hope one day my airline will start to fly a route to Schiphol Amsterdam as I'm Dutch.
How do you unwind at the end of a day?
Take off my uniform and have a shower.
How do you find time to exercise?
I try to work out at least four times a week. I work out on my days off and before lates. There is nothing better than a work-out before flying. It makes you so much more energetic. I train with a personal trainer twice a week in the gym, or go boxing in the park in Barcelona, or take a bootcamp at the beach. I also love to go hiking and mountain climbing. For me sport is next to travelling as one of my biggest passions - and very important as my job is sitting still for a long time in the pilot's chair.
Do you prefer to cook or eat out?
I love a nice night with friends and tapas in Barcelona, but I also like to cook. I try to eat healthy. I usually prepare meals for the days I am flying, like stir fries with chicken, veg and quinoa, freeze them and take them on my flights.
When do you go to bed?
On my early shifts I go to bed early, sometimes I don't make it past 8pm, but on lates and days off it depends. Usually I have the most energy in the afternoon and early evening. If I have a completely empty schedule, which is rare, I love to enjoy Barcelona's nightlife.
Follow Eva Claire's photos here.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to Eva Claire as a captain. This has been corrected.
The Telegraph, London
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