Real Answers from Real Pilots

Pilot Health & Diet Questions

Hello everyone! So I have yet to start at ATP due to delays and opportunities like my required internship; however, I plan on attending right after I graduate next year in the Summer of 2019.

Over the course of the last 9 months I attended multiple conventions and tours like FAPA, American Airlines GSW tour, etc. One thing that kept coming up in the conversations was health. While I know the best way to check your current state is to go to a doctor or medical examiner, I would like to ask for your recommendations on the following questions:

  1. I heard from my pilot mentor that in order to save and take per diem, often regional pilots will pack their own lunch. First, is this true? And if so, during your regional days, what did you pack and eat usually on the road?

  2. Online somewhere I heard the more fit you are = the more prone you are to airsickness/motion sickness. Of course, it depends on each person, but have you found this to be true with your colleagues and coworkers?

  3. Is it true that once you have diabetes, cancer, etc. you are to lose your job without pay indefinitely?

  4. What does your diet and exercise plan look like? (I am sure being stuck in a hotel or airport can wear down your health in the long-run)

I apologize if any of this was asked (just wanted to cover all these in one post) and if the post was long and a bore to read! Anyway thank you for reading and I look forward to your replies!

Hosam,

Keep fit and keeping your job as a pilot go hand in hand. Here are some answers:

  1. Pilots get paid per diem regardless of whether they pack their lunches or not. First year pay has come up considerably but no one’s getting rich on it so yes many pilots pack their own food. I never did because I’m lazy and like to eat at the different locations we’d visit. As for what others pack that’s the same as asking what does the average person eat for lunch? If you can pack it some one is.

  2. Never heard that and I seriously doubt there’s any evidence to support it. Case in point you can’t be a fighter pilot or a pilot in Japan and be overweight but I don’t see them getting sick.

  3. False. It really depends how long it takes to get your medical back, if you can? If you get sick first you’ll use your sick bank (which hopefully you haven’t depleted by wasting it on mental health days) and you’ll continue to get paid. After that you’ll need to take a medical leave of absence. You won’t get fired but you’re also not getting paid. Hopefully by then you’ll have a better idea of where you stand? Many airlines and the union offer long term disability insurance which can help greatly as far as income. Again it comes down to whether or not your illness is recoverable and you can get your medical back. If the condition is debilitating enough obviously you’re done.

  4. This again varies from individual to individual. I know pilots who maintain very strict diet and exercise regiments, others do nothing and there’s everything in between. That’s actually one of the reasons I chose to return to Interisland flying and day trips. I found it incredibly challenging to maintain my health flying Worldwide and was suffering as a result. I’ve since returned to flying day trips only. My weight and numbers are down. The pay is less but I’ll live longer :slight_smile:

Adam

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Hello Hosam,

  1. Not sure what you mean by “take per diem,” but I am all about saving
    money. I meal prep on my days off. I have a large Travelpro lunch tote. It
    fits up to 4 meals. I never leave without it. I keep my perishables chilled
    with ice packs so I can eat them at the hotel. While in the flight deck I
    graze on snacks or first class meals (if available).

  2. Never heard of this. Motion sickness is caused by conflicting signals
    between your vestibular, visual and somatosensory systems. To me, those
    systems have nothing to do with physical fitness. If physical fitness is a
    concern for you, consult your AME. If motion sickness is a concern, there
    may be ways to mitigate it. It usually comes down to a lack of
    understanding and trust with your instrument panel. Sometimes it is
    necessary to wear a motion sickness bracelet.

  3. Not sure. Your AME would know.

  4. My diet and exercise plan is for ectomorphs that want to gain healthy
    muscle mass. I lift weights 3-4x a week. I eat 2500-3000 cals per day. Fat
    consumption is limited to 20% of my daily caloric intake.

Tory

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Thank you guys for the replies! I just wondered about these questions and always felt like it would be good to start thinking about it now in case anything may happen in the future. And I will definitely talk to my doctor and AME in my first medical exam!