Here are published the results of a survey that I began collecting in November of 2010. The participants in this survey volunteered to take the questioner and answer it to the best of their ability in order to offer wisdom for other pilot wives, girlfriends and partners. I am continuing to collect surveys and I will add data as more information comes in. All names are withheld from the final publication for confidentiality. This is a fun project and I would like to thank each and every participant for sharing their thoughts - without you this bank of information to draw from would not be available.
(Please bare with me while I compile and organize the result I will post a little at a time but want to share as I am creating this so that all of you can have some input if there is something you want to see or if you have a better idea of presenting the results. For ease of sharing information please post your comments to Pilot Wives Share this is for all of us so please feel free to share your thoughts you can also e-mail me at

Image courtesy of google (too cute to pass up)

The impact of the pilot lifestyle on wife and children

General Information about the wives, girlfriends and partners of pilots
To have some general statistics I asked that everyone participating to share some general information about themselves. I thought that these were some of the factors that affect partners (wives/ girlfriends) of pilots such as how much time the pilot is away on monthly basis or annually, does the wife or girlfriend work outside of the home, how new or established is the relationship, how new or established is the pilot in his career. I think that all of these factors affect how we responded to the survey questions. More importantly I think that such factors as age, length of relationship and how long the pilot has been flying commercially and especially how much he is gone affects how we react to every day joys and challenges, how we raise our children and how we react to our pilot. So check out the data below, I made graphs as they are easier to understand and more fun to look at if you want a short summary skip to the end of this section.

Total Participants - 24

Participant age groups

Education Level of pilot partners
Work outside the home vs not

Length of time in a relationship with your pilot
Out of the 24 participants 22 are married and 2 are not married.

Number of years your pilot has been flying commercially

Number of days your pilot spends a month away from home
Note that those who are in the 22 to 30 days category are gone a month and home a moth or gone two months home two months so the schedule is such that they are gone long stretches but home for long stretches as well.

Number of months your pilot spends a year away from home

Number of times you relocated for your pilots career
17 out of the 24 pilots commute to work and 7 do not.

The women who have taken this survey vary in age from 20 to over 50 with 45% being in the 30 to 34 age bracket and 25% being in the 25 to 29 age group. Over 50% of women surveyed have at least a bachelor's degree (79%). The occupations vary from accountants, business professionals, dancers, designers, event planners, finance professionals, lawyers, marketing professionals, nurses, teachers and technicians to those who stepped out of their professional role to raise children (33%).  Six out of the 24 women have been in a relationship with their pilot for less than 5 years, while nine have been with their pilot for between 5 and 10 years, 8 have been in the relationship for over 10 years. Six pilots have been flying commercially for less than 5 years relatively new in the field only one of those five pilots is in his 1st year of flying commercially. Eight pilots fall in the 5 to 10 years for commercially flying bracket and the remaining 10 have flown for over 10 years. Eighty three percent of the pilots are gone for over 7 days a month, of those eighty percent 9 of  the 24 (37%)  are gone between one to two weeks per month and 8 (33%) are gone for stretches between two and three weeks at a time. Some of the pilots fly schedules that require them to be absent for 30 or 64 days at a stretch and return home for 30 to 64 days. Eleven (45%) of the pilots spend more than 6 months away from their family (partner) annually. Fourteen (66%) of pilots and their partners relocated at least once for their career.
I know that these are just numbers but they show that this survey has been taken by a diverse group of women who are in relationships with pilots for different lengths of time. This variety will allow for expression and advice on the different stages in life from new to seasoned. fresh perspective is just as valuable as someone who has been doing it for 15 plus years and has worked out some of the kinks. It sure is apparent that this lifestyle is one of frequent change and absences, some of us thrive on this to some it is a huge challenge. This section is representative of the surveys that I have received up to this point and will change as new surveys come in.
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>With comments e-mail me at<>
Lets talk about personality  and your pilot

I have heard so many stereotypes about all pilots being A personalities - adrenaline junkies, organized, time conscious, highly competitive, even aggressive that I just had to know if that was a myth or if those were truly the characteristics that make for a pilot so I asked partners of pilots to describe their pilots as:
A  personality - impatient, time conscious, controlling, concerned about their status, highly competitive, ambitious, business like, aggressive having difficulty relaxing known as "stress junkies"
B personality - patient, relaxed, and easy going, generally lacking an overriding sense of urgency.
AB personality - mix of both
This is how we see our pilots
So it appears that more than half - 62% are AB personality, a quarter 25% are A and 12% are B.  
We all are very complex beings and as many psychologist (which I am not one) would tell you A, B and AB do not do justice to the human personality. I wanted to see if our pilots were introverted or extroverted (definition). One would think that as per the stereo type pilots should all be extroverts. You know those wild, crazy, party animals who are driven by danger - you get the picture this guy

Image courtesy of google
He he - so appropriate but not really true. from our surveys it appears that 12 are in fact extroverts, 11 are introverts and 1 is a little of both. In conclusion pilots are both extroverts and inrtoverts.

Pilot partners personality types *NEW

I asked the wives and girlfriends to list their personality types, and thought maybe there is a correlation between personality types in relationship. There are pretty even numbers of A, B and AB partner to pilots. I really could not detect an overwhelming evidence to state that one personality of pilot attracts another. I did a little bit of digging on line and found and article on line in the Relationship section for MSNBC that stated that A-A couples are power couples where in couples where the male is A and the female is B type the male tends to be more aggressive in their carer for example a CEO while the female takes on the care taker role.
I am not sure how much truth there is to this statement i am a strong A and he is a strong A I am also the care taker while he is the aggressor in his career. I stand 100% behind him and support so I am a bit skeptical about that generalization. check out the numbers for yourselves and feel free to comment.

Pilot strengths and weaknesses

I asked for pilot partners to list out their pilot's strengths and weaknesses it is interesting to see that what some could see as a weakness some saw as a strength and vice versa. After combining all of the answers from one work laundry lists to little stories I came up with two pages of characteristics.

Many wives and girlfriends see the following as strengths that the pilot has.

In addition the following were also listed and strengths :
attention to detail , ambitious, confident, considerate, cool in stressful situations, detailed, does not anger easily, financially responsible, flexible, leadership, logical, loyal, mechanical, passionate, pragmatic, rational, responsible, sees the big picture, spiritual, technical, thoughtful

Weaknesses were harder to come by but there were a few that more than 1 partner saw so here they are

Here are some additional characteristics that were seen as negative:
A royal ass, always gives his all, arrogant, bad short term memory, black and white no grey, distractible, does not handle emotions well, hard headed, hard time relaxing, impatient, innocent, non-emotional, OCD, opinionated, over thinks, patience,  perfectionism, pessimism, procrastinator, pushes himself hard, puts too much on his plate , slow driver, straight forward direct, stresses about time, strong personality, temper, too laid back, unreasonable at times, very in control

Positives and challenges of the pilot lifestyle 
the breathtaking views are always a plus
Why are pilots pilots? There are numerous reasons why people choose their profession and I know that for us my husband loves to fly, with that choice comes a unique lifestyle that allows for travel and presents many opportunities as well as challenges so I asked the wives and girlfriends to list the positive and challenging things about this lifestyle. Here is a summary of their take on the pluses and minuses of the lifestyle and job, listed in order of most often mentioned to less often.

  • Love for flying – 11
  • Travel  - 6
  • When he is home he is home – quality time with family - 4
  • Getting to get away take time to himself - 4
  • Getting to meet new people -3
  • He is good at his job -2
  • Good income - 2
  • The time the pilot is away from home allows the partner a lot of freedom to pursue their interest such as volunteering etc. – 2
  • Being a pilot is gratifying
  • Adapts to change easily
  • Being away from family and home -11
  • Instability in the industry & furloughs -5
  • Getting up early – 4
  • Finding a balance between family and following dreams -3
  • Being overworked / long flight days – 2
  • Working with incompetent people
  • Keeping up with duties when away from base
  • Keeping the motivation on track when your career is derailed
  • Putting himself first not trying to please everyone else
  • Not becoming complacent staying prepared for emergency at all times
  • Coping with different cultures if working abroad
  • Internal working pressures
  • Financial wellbeing after retirement
  • Low pay
  • Starting at the bottom
 After reading the responses some short and to the point and some longer explaining the fine details of the lifestyle and why certain area is seen as a positive and other as a negative I found some very common threads that link us together and often are a doubled edged sword. It seems that you can’t have it all and thus it’s a tradeoff. You get to travel as a pilot but while you travel you are away from your family so while you are gaining the amazing experiences of seeing the world you miss the kids firsts, birthdays and holidays and your own bed. The beginning is hard and we h put in our dues but eventually the pay gets better and with time there is more security.  As we glide along sometimes hitting turbulence some aviation related and some just because life is full of ups and downs here is proof that there are always two sides to each coin and where there are hardships in this lifestyle there are also positives and benefits that make it worth our while.

Adjustment after pilot has been gone also know as 1st day home jitters.
I wrote about this few times (First day back jitters (all the way down on the page) and Theanti……….cipation as well as He is coming home) and the topic comes up often in the different groups I belong to. How to cope with the jitters?  How to seamlessly slip back into the routine? In the survey I asked how others do it. Is there a secret to having a successful home coming every time?
Do you find an adjustment period when your pilot returns home?

 Words of wisdom:
How long does the adjustment period last?
Depending on how long he has been gone
A day or two  – 6
Few days
Couple weeks for the jet lag to subside
Couple hours to couple days before we get used to each other – 2
Few hours
How do you deal with it:
Recognize it for what it is and move on
Be patient
Go out to eat first night at home nice treat for the family and allows time to catch up and talk
Give him time for himself to decompress, sometimes it if frustrating if the whole family is home and we want to have fun
Make a list of thing for him to do
Spend few more minutes getting ready (primping in front of a mirror) in anticipation of his return
Have someone else pick him up from the airport and give him space knowing that he is excited to be home but is tired
Home turns into a bed and breakfast
Kiss and cuddle
Cleaning the house a lot
Reduce stresses on the 1st day home, clean house
Let him sleep
Integrating him into routine after the initial excitement of his return wears off becomes a bit challenging.
Allow him space so that he can get caught up on his things like bills, laundry, try to stay out of his way.
Try to stick to my routine while making sure he gets what he needs food and space
Have a good book or a taped TV show to occupy you while he sleeps
Take some time together (alone) to reconnect  
 Little Summary
After reading all of the responses I have found that more than half of the partners do find that there is adjustment period while only 29% feel that there is not one. The adjustment period seems to vary based on the time that pilot has been gone and thus can last anywhere from few hours to few days even weeks if husband works overseas and jet lag is a factor.
The common thread in the words of wisdom seems to boil down to : space, patience and allowing the returning pilot time to catch up on sleep and fall back into the routine. Space being the key mentioned almost by everyone.



Being a parent is the most interesting, stressful, and rewarding job I have ever had. It is a job where you get paid with hugs and kisses and you feel your way through it, hoping that the report card or evaluation you receive in 20 years is a good one, you didn't get a clearly defined job description nor a manual.  It is a harder job yet, when you have a nutty schedule. There have been many books written about children, and their behaviors many suggest that kids thrive on routine, and that lack of routine can lead to some behavioral issues, I think that lack of routine can lead to kids who adapt easly to change. Since I don’t have a child psychology degree I will not venture into the theories on routine and behavior  too much, I can share with you what some of the wives including myself noticed in our children. A very wise girlfriend that I have, and value very much said to me before my son was born: “Aggie, every child is different and you as a parent will know what works for your child and your family, no one else can tell you how to raise him or what he needs because no one lives in your house and knows what your family needs. As long as you do things that are best for him and your family as a whole you will be fine”. She is a very smart woman and one I hold dear to my heart, five years into being a mom I can tell you that her advice was priceless. Keep this advice in mind when you read this take what you can use and leave the rest.

Do you see behavioral patterns in your children depending on your partner’s travel? For example increased whining, disobedience, testing boundaries, acting out, withdraw, difficulty sleeping, nightmares, others

Out of the 14 moms 2 said no because the child is too little to realize, 12 said yes.

So what are some of the challenges

 Some moms saw more than one issue, some kids have hard time sleeping, others test boundaries others act out by refusing to play with daddy when he comes home, throwing things, crying more. It is hard to explain to a toddler that this is daddy’s job and that he comes home and leaves but he will come home again, and that missing him is ok. I will never forget the day that my son asked why is best friends daddy comes home every night and his doesn’t.  I explained it in as simple terms as I could without placing blame on his job, I don’t want my son to hate the fact that daddy is a pilot. So I said: “so and so’s daddy does come home everynight that’s right. But he also only had two days off a week when your daddy is home he is home for seven days. Is seven more than two?” Son said yes, I went on then: “See you get daddy more days” he liked that whew.

Consistency when you are facing behavioral issues be it acting out, testing or difficulty sleeping to me is a life saver. I have bed time routine and a bed time when daddy is gone, I will tell you that by no means am I perfect and said routing goes to hell when daddy is home and the boys are watching a game or a movie.  We all have found ways to deal with the issues that arise while daddy is here or gone.

How do you handle issues that arise, be specific in techniques or patterns that you have developed that work for your family?

·         Communicate with daddy as much as possible and keep him in the loop try to make decisions together,

·         Make the calls as the issues arise, it is difficult to tell your child “wait until your father gets home” when that could be days away.

·         Allow time to talk to daddy whenever possible so that the child misses him less, can discuss things as they come up

·         Keeping busy

·         While handling nightmares, show a lot of support and love, cuddles at night reassure that everything is fine

·         Present a united front when daddy is at home

·         Be patient, everyone is adjusting

·         Sometimes “I am going to call your dad and tell him about your behavior” is a necessary line that helps.

·         All major decisions wait until they can be made together – I can certainly see this as a necessity and a good policy when the kids are older.

Do you see a difference in rules between the times that you are a “single” parent and when your spouse return or are you consistent please elaborate?

I think we all agree and strive for consistency and continuing the same routine when daddy is away and when he is home, however sometimes we fall short, due to … well being human and raising humans not robots. The biggest trends I have notices in the surveys is fluctuating bed time to allow more time with daddy when he is home and changing routine in the infant and toddler years. Our children challenge us with changing as they grow so as they change so do the rules and we are often not afforded the freedom to say: “Hey, I know you are just one and your feeding schedule is changing because you are growing and your naps have changed because you dropped one but can you do ma a solid one and just wait with the changes until your dad gets home so that we can be on the same page, k?” Yeah that would be nice but so so unrealistic so we try to keep daddy in the loop and text them or skype or message or do whatever and hope that in all of the chaos that is life we don’t forget something, and if we do we hope that daddy takes a day to observe without butting in until he is solid on what is in now and asks questions in private.   

More to come in the meantime if you have comments, hints or helpful pointers please feel free to share in the post.
How do you compensate when daddy is away on special occasions birthdays, holidays etc?

There are many ways to deal with the absent daddy/ husband pilot during the holidays here are some of the wisdom that was shared:
  • celebrate when daddy is home - 9

           When the children are very little they don't know that today is the actual Christmas or birthday and celebrating when daddy is home before or after the actual day works, calling to wish a "happy birthday" or  'happy anniversary" on the actual day makes that day very special. The date does not really matter being together is what is important. Celebrating with daddy becomes a tradition and sometimes it s fun to celebrate twice.
  • celebrate with family and friends - 2
           If it is imposable for daddy to be there on the actual holiday celebrating on the actual day with family and friends takes away from feeling like a single parent and brings cheer to the holiday.
  • celebrate alone - 1
There are worst things than having your dad be away on holidays so not making a big deal out of him being gone hopefully will make the  children not think that is s a big deal either, it is just part of the lifestyle. You do what you have to to make things as "normal" as possible.

About you

Wives worry, then we cope – that is what must be done.

So many people say: “Oh it must be so exciting being married to a pilot?” – it is - not always the good kind of exciting. For the big jet pilots and the helicopter pilots even though some of the dangers are different (the heli pilots don’t really worry about terrorism acts, even though there have been kidnaping incidences many many years ago) there is still that pesky weather to worry about and unexpected maintenance issues. So as I received this picture from Mr. Right I thought “This is a perfect time to do the “Are you afraid or worried when your husband is flying?” and how do you cope bit of the survey”.

I know he is not flying in this crap - see the oh so safely tied down helicopter above? Well the scary thing is that he is out there on the oil rig just hanging out with all the other guys who have to weather the weather with him and find shelter in the metal  buildings on an long stem suspended over the angry ocean – not a great bed night story.

I am hoping that all is well while the most terrifying scenarios play out in my head so how do you deal with them apples? So many of us have worries and here is what they are.

What scares us wives:
  •       Worry about repeat 911
  •       Bad weather
  •        Beig tired - flying log hours or red-eye
  •        Not getting that call or text when landed
  •         Hearing there was a crash without knowing who crashed (this one is made worst by the      zillions of phone calls from family and friends asking if you are ok and was it “him”)
How do we cope
  •        We pray
  • Call him and ask they call at least once a day to let us know they are ok.
  • Try not to imagine horror scenarios
  • Refuse to worry
  • Trust in his ability
  • Having your pilot explain things to you to help ease fears
  • Remind ourselves that driving is more dangerous than flying (30,797 deaths due to vehicular accidents took place in 2009 – US Census Bureau – I do question this only seeing that per 100,000 licensed drivers the average is 16.3 to the pilot death rate per 100,000 of 70.6 which is greater - but I am not sure how these statistics were acquired)
  • Force the “what ifs” out
  • Tell him to “fly safe” when he leaves for work
  • Stay busy  
  • Seek comfort from a friend
  • Play on the wives support groups websites on line – those ladies get it
  • Do what relaxes you
Some people say that aviation is so much safer now -  well did you know that according to a report by CNBS pilots are number 3 on the most dangerous jobs in the US for 2011 list – “3. Pilots and Flight Engineers, Fatality rate: 70.6/100,000, Total deaths: 78, Annual mean salary: $115,300.  Particularly at risk of fatal injuries are test pilots who fly new or experimental planes, crop-duster pilots who may be exposed to harmful chemicals, and those who operate rescue helicopters” By no means did I post this to scare the living lights out of you, it makes me feel more normal for feeling that paralyzing fear at times until I hear his voice or get the “all is swell” text. I wrote all about this in No really I am FINE almost all the way down in the relationship page if you are interested.  As for the survey the results are varied some of us worry all the time and some not at all while majority float in that occasional bracket.

I do hope that by reading this I validated you if you fear for your partner or if you don’t fear for him. The truth is that everyone has different points of views and opinions and thus the survey to share what we each feel. So if you are in the never group I say “good for you” and if you fall in the often or occasionally column then maybe someone has mentioned a way of coping that you have not tried and it will help you. If you have a statistic insight or something to share please let me know.