At a flying school frequented by this squawker some years ago, the wearing of epaulettes by the flying school staff was eschewed. As a ‘grass roots’ flying club, teaching private pilots exclusively, it was deemed somewhat gauche to be seen parading round the clubhouse in full piloting regalia, resembling a Bolivian Tank Commander in full dress uniform.
Instructor identification was deemed obvious by the general swagger and 1,000-yard stare projected by these skygods, and further proof of their bona fides was considered unnecessary. The only exception to the lack of uniform was that instructors had to wear white pilot shirts.
Then one day, one of the students noticed his instructor putting on four-bar gold epaulettes just as he was getting into his car to drive home. Curious as to what second job his instructor must be off to, he asked him where he was going. Expecting to be told that he was moonlighting as a freight dog, or some such, the response was decidedly unexpected: “I’ve got to stop and get petrol on the way home”.
It turns out that the young instructor had a crush on a forecourt attendant working at his local petrol station, and had figured that more formal identification of his credentials would help smooth his way into this girl’s affections.
And it would appear that he might have been onto something. A survey taken by the people behind dating app Tinder has revealed that pilots are at the top of the list of most admired male careers, garnering the highest percentage of ‘right swipes’, ahead of male models, entrepreneurs and firefighters.
“It makes sense,” says psychotherapist and relationship expert, Dr Ginnie Love, in an interview with Travel + Leisure (and with a name like that, who’d disagree with her). “Women like the idea of a powerful man. Being a pilot says, ‘I’m fearless, daring and intelligent.’ It’s the ultimate phallic symbol—a jet liner.”
So we set a challenge to all those ‘fearless, daring and intelligent’ single pilots out there – and we’re guessing there must be at least a couple of you – is it better to risk the derision of your fellow instructors by wearing the ‘stripes of glory’, or risk losing the ardent admiration of a generation of swipers?