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Pilots

What pilots do, how they look, how they learn, how they cope, how they talk, how they act and the equipment they use all seem different, interesting, mystifying, exciting, complicated and even glamorous from our ground-bound perspective.

Pilots are not superhuman!

Since Wilbur and Orville Wright first (barely) took to the air in 1903, pilots have held great fascination for the rest of us.
The first landings by 6 Squadron Eurofighter Typhoon at RAF Leuchars

Pilots clothing

People who work in specialised roles often wear specialised equipment to either enable them to do their job, or to keep them safe while they do so.
 
A fast jet pilot’s clothing is, perhaps, the daddy of them all; every item, and almost every part of every item, is specifically designed for a purpose and, in most cases, comfort isn’t the primary purpose!

In case of an emergency

The ejection seat has a cushion covering the survival pack.
Ejection seat
The survival pack contains a dinghy and survival aids. The contents for each aircraft are similar but will vary depending on the operational conditions, such as; jungle, desert, maritime, arctic or tropical.
 

Key to survive

Self-contained rescue centre.
Between what is carried in the pilots clothing and what is included in the ejection seat pack, they form a self-contained rescue centre.
 
Pilots are taught the following mantra to be prioritised in a survival situation:
Protection – protect yourself; get away from any danger and establish physical protection against the elements you find yourself in.
Location – do everything possible to assist those trying to find your location.
Water – for the cases where it may be a matter of days rather than hours before rescue, a supply of water is more important to establish before setting out to look for food sources.
Food – water comes first.
 

Life Jacket

The Life Jacket is a self-contained safety system.
 
As well as its principal flotation function (the orange inflatable lobes are stowed inside the stole which runs up the front of the jacket, around the wearer’s neck, and back down the front), the Life Jacket is constructed of robust material to offer protection against ejection blast, and restraining straps to stop the arms flailing during ejection.
Its pockets contain emergency and signalling aids (e.g. heliograph and mini-flares), and it carries the connecting tubes for aircraft services such as oxygen and communications, all linked to the aircraft via a personal equipment connector.
Click on the image above to see the location of these items.
 

How to train a pilot

The process of becoming a fully trained operational RAF pilot is a long and involved one.
Pilots in Typhoon

Find out about each of the seven phases of training that a pilot must go through to become fully operational by visiting the pilots training feature.