I first met James on an Emirates A380 flight from Dubai to London Heathrow (Callsign ‘EK003 heavy’- click here to view the review of that flight) in 2011. He was our Senior First Officer and was kind enough to take a few photos for me from the flight deck using my camera (my camera was allowed in, but not I!). We had an amazing crew on that flight, and the senior purser was a good bloke. Upon hearing that I was a photographer and journalist, he replied “Oh, our senior pilot is also a photographer and author- let me speak to him and see if he can lend you his book”. The guy gave me his book for the whole flight…best in-flight reading I have ever done! After we landed at a windy Heathrow, the senior purser (who somehow also doubled as a good salesman), asked me “So, what do you think? Would you like to buy it?” I burst into laughter….I thought it was a free gift from James!
Ever since that flight, we have been good mates. I can say that he comes across as a very friendly and customer-focused person- which is a rare to find in the aviation industry these days. Reading his blog posts and his Facebook posts, you get the feeling that he is a true aviator and not just a pilot- he calls his planes girlfriends…I mean, you can’t really get much more love out of your job than that! He makes you wish you were a pilot, even if you are not into aviation and even if you have no love for planes whatsoever! James has always provided me with great advice about flying and I have cherished that advice. We met again in Dubai in 2015. This time he was preparing for his simulator test for his command course on the Airbus A380. It was at that time that he told me of his retirement plans. I was quite sad and surprised to hear it.
James’ last flight, EK407, was on the 24th of September from Melbourne (MEL) to Dubai (DXB) on aircraft registration A6-EDY, arriving early in the morning in Dubai. I cannot begin to imagine what he must be going through at this time, knowing that he will never fly ever again. His career has been nothing short of an exemplary one for those who want to enter the challenging but rewarding world of aviation.
He will be writing books in his retirement on subjects related to aviation (while downing a few well-deserved daiquiris in Boracay, no doubt!). Click here to read a review I wrote for one of his books in sleeping for pilots and other insomniacs!
In his own words, just before this last commercial flight out of Melbourne for Dubai, the great Melbournian said on Facebook: “They say pilots only love the plane they're flying ... And they remember only two flights, the last one they did and their first solo. Thanks, Peter Nelson, for sending me solo in 1985 ... Will never forget it!”.
After a remarkable career of thirty-one and a half years that many can only dream of having, I am sure he will be yearning to fly again soon! Mate, you are really an inspiration to many and it has been an absolute pleasure to know you as a mate. Here’s cheers to a very well-deserved and happy retirement!
Below is a recording of James' interview on Melbourne's Radio 3AW with Darren James
When it comes to writing books, it is always the original ideas that win, and this is one that most people have been waiting for someone to write about. This book is very well-researched, well-written, and thoroughly deserves to be read and reviewed by mainstream global media outlets. The author provides the readers with factual information and very useful messages on a subject that is crucial to those who take us safely from A to B. The author does this all with an entertaining and witty song throughout. It is a pleasure to read what he has written - so much more beautiful and interesting than anything else that you will find in any aviation related magazine.
The only problem here is that I, or anyone for that matter, sadly cannot reveal the identity of the author. Which is a shame, because when you read the amount of excruciating detail that he has gone into in laying out the crude fundamental reasons of why pilots and cabin-crew fail to get a good night sleep, only then you end up realising how fortunate those are that are reading this subject. I appreciate that the author provides interesting facts with a winsome sense of fun, and sometimes with silly-clever interludes, but on the whole there is a lot of pertinent information about a serious subject at hand.
It goes without saying that for a demanding job as being an airport pilot (and also cabin crew), getting the license and qualifying to get the job is only the first step in something that can be a rewarding career. However, the real challenge is to fight off the fatigue that comes with the job (it can make or break a career- and that’s one of the many reasons why you need a Class 1 Medical to be an airline pilot).
For most passengers, a single 12-hour flight can be enough to put off flying for a while- imagine doing that day-in day-out for the rest of your career. Pilots who fly internationally have to deal with jetlag and the weird times at which they land/take-off all the time, and they have to be fully mentally and physically fit for that. It is not easy by any means. Weird sleep patterns can have a disastrous effect on your body. In many cases, crew only have up to 48 hours of layover time before they turn-around and fly again. Low-cost and regional crew also have to deal with such challenges (though not with jetlag), but imagine starting at 3am and finishing at 1am the following day without a rest and aircraft delays, and then have to start again the following day- that’s the life of a low-cost airline pilot.
Many pilots and cabin-crew choose to find various ways to fight of their the pressures of the job - binge drinking (not everyone, of course), sleeping tablets, anti-migraine tablets, chain smoking etc. are all well-known habits that are practised in the industry (it is very difficult to get into and stay in the industry and very easy to get out of the industry). But how do you effectively end up enjoying a good night sleep on a layover? How do you manage to do that, especially if you are working for a not so well-known airline, where they stick the crew up in the cheapest hotel possible, complete with bed bugs and noisy neighbours?
Well, thankfully this book lifts the lid on a subject which everyone in the airline industry wonders about, but nobody has had the time to write about. I think every pilot, whether they are a trainee, experienced, a Top Gun… and even if they have flown Air Force One for the U.S. President, should get a copy of this book, grab a freshly brewed coffee (preferably not the one you get on planes), and cherish every word. In actual fact, this book would come handy to other insomniacs, especially doctors, nurses, night-time police helicopter pilots and so on.
The highly respected and experienced author works for a major airline (cannot give name) as an Airbus A380 Captain, and he has been all over the world and in all kinds of situations for the past 30 years – in other words, he’s seen and done it all from Dhaka to Guangzhou to Malta to Zanzibar and in other far flung places.
Click here to order this book from Amazon createspace for only $15.9
Click here for the book's website
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