A Pilot's Perspective.

By Barry Meek.

SEPTEMBER 2005         

Pilots Are Happy People

We recently attended a fly-in/picnic at a private airstrip on a farm near Mabel Lake. Apart from several area pilots, neighbors from the entire valley are invited and everyone brings food. It's an annual event hosted by the owner of the little farm, Leroy Proctor. He and his neighbors welcome pilots with gracious, friendly hospitality. The pilots mingled freely with the area residents, exchanging greetings and information in the warm August sunshine. We met some interesting, fine folks on that glorious day, and it's one event we'd like to plan for again next year.

With plenty of spare time on my hands, even without sitting on a remote mountain top, I sometimes find my mind wanders and wonders about things that normal people probably don't think about too much. Consider the question, "Are pilots really happier than non-pilots, or is it my imagination?"

Certainly there are many specific factors which make someone happy, and there is actually a lot of scientific research on it. Money usually comes to mind when the topic is discussed, which doesn't make sense because if you\rquote re a pilot (general aviation, private pilot) you likely don't have money. But it's been shown that it's not the money that makes you happy, it's the status the money buys that does it. Understanding that illustrates more clearly why a pilot is generally a happy person, because agree or disagree, pilots enjoy a certain high status in our society. And that's not because we're any better than the next person, it's just a fact of life. Whatever we do to earn it is rooted in our own feelings prior to our flying careers. We all held airmen in high esteem back then, and the rest of the people still do it to us today. We were reminded of that and humbled by all the attention from the people at the picnic.

More scientific surveys show there is a genetic connection which determines how happy we are too. Apparently, some of us are actually born happy, while others are not. Consider all the factors that make us happy, and genetics is the strongest. It rates up there even above flying! Go figure.

We've all heard that marriage makes people happy. I suppose if your 35 year old daughter or son who still lives at home announces he/she is getting married and moving out, you'd be very happy. Studies from many countries reveal that married people are consistently happier than singles. The question remains, does marriage make you happy or are happy people more likely to get married?

Another happiness determining factor is age. When people are asked to respond to questionnaires regarding their emotional status, older people consistently report more positive emotions. Why? Well, by now most of us can relate to living w ith more realistic goals, and have learned to focus on things that make us happy, probably because we know time is running out, and we have to let go of the bad things in life, things that don't really matter anymore. Like the golf handicap, the latest fashions, or how we look in the mirror.

Where is all this rambling going you ask? Well, it's nothing more than a consideration of happiness. Conclusion? Pilots who are old, rich and married are indeed more likely to be almost as happy as those wonderful farm people who host flyin/picnics for us. I salute you folks, and can speak for all the fellows who fly by saying thank you all for a most enjoyable day.

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