As a woman in aviation, I have experienced a lot of weird job interviews. In one, I wore a very nice suit but was still lectured about the dress code – specifically, the part about “no girl shall wear short shorts or tops with their boobs hanging out.” Yes, he seriously said that, and no, I don’t think the same rule applied to “boys.”
In another, the interviewer expressed concern that their clients would balk at being flown around by a “girl.” I can only conclude that the customers are afraid that either breasts get in the way when the pilot reaches for the autopilot button, or that women lack an extra brain in their pants which is used solely for navigation.
There is only one interview that I would consider doing over again, and it had nothing to do with the meeting, per se. It was because of how I got there – I was flown to headquarters on one of the company’s Learjets – and it was the day that I learned how freight dogs define the term expedite.
This potential job was with a freight company, so at about 10:00 pm, I was belted into the sideways-facing jump seat of a learjet and we took off. The jet was configured for cargo operations, which means that, besides the pilot and co-pilot seats in the cockpit, there is only a small bench seat just inside the entry door and the remainder of the fuselage is stuffed completely full of… stuff.
The captain was friendly – the co-pilot was not – and after we arrived at our destination, he chatted with me for a little while before my meeting. I was pleased to learn that I would be catching a ride back home with him after my interview, and he said he would keep an eye out for me.
The interview went well, I got a quick tour of the facilities, and it wasn’t long before I was on my way home again.
In the aircraft, I leaned forward into the cockpit to marvel at all the gauges, switches, instruments, and controls. I had never been in a Learjet before that night, and I was mesmerized. Noticing my interest, the captain said, “We’ve been given a descent to 10,000 feet at our discretion. Since we get a better airspeed up high, I’m going to stay up here as long as they’ll let me.”
As if on cue, the controller came over the radio and told us to expedite our descent to 10,000 feet. The captain flashed me a big grin, said, “Watch this,” pulled the power all the way back, and nosed the jet over.
It felt like we were going straight down. I know that we were descending in excess of 6,000 feet per minute because he showed me the gauge that confirmed it. I couldn’t help myself, I laughed out loud for the sheer joy of it. It was glorious. I don’t know if the captain was testing me, or trying to scare me, but all he really accomplished is making me want that job more than ever.
He smoothly leveled out at exactly 10,000 feet, and before I knew it, we were back on the ground in Chicago.
Luckily, I got the job. And to this day, I can’t hear the word “expedite” without thinking of that flight, and mirroring the captain’s huge, cheesy smile with one of my own.