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Most Stressful Jobs: #3 Airline Pilot, Jeff Montgomery [VIDEO]

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UNDATED — An indescribable sense of freedom and adventure consumed him as he gazed at the planes taking off and landing, in this moment the little boy knew what he wanted to do, he wanted to fly. Since that time, Jeff Montgomery has made being a pilot his career.

“I started flying gliders when I was 14, started flying power planes when was 15 1/2, and got my license when I was 17.”

Coming in at #3 on our top 10 most stressful job list, developed by, is airline pilot. Montgomery has been flying for over 30 years, he started his professional career in the Air Force.

“At the same time that I was an air traffic controller I had a couple of other jobs off base. One of which was running the flight department for a media group, a couple of radio stations, I managed that flight department for them for a while. And I also flew freight at night for four nights a week, for about three of the four years [in the Air Force].”

While in the Air Force, Montgomery pursued another passion, and decided to study broadcasting at Thomas Edison State College in New Jersey. With his radio dreams, Montgomery says it actually helped him land his first pilot position.

“It wasn’t necessarily important for you to have an aviation degree. As a matter of fact, in years past, it was kind of viewed upon as a better thing to have a different degree so that your mind is a little more diverse. That’s kind of what they were looking for back in the day because your flying experience is very separate from your educational experience.”

Even by today’s standards an airline pilot doesn’t need to have a degree in aviation they just need to have a degree.

“The reasons the airlines want you to have a degree is because they want to know that you are trainable, they want to know that you can learn and can excel at things you are taught.”

In 1985, Montgomery took on his first pilot position with Ransome Airlines, the company was later bought out by Pan America and in 1991 Pan Am went under, leaving him jobless.

“After eight months I got an interview with another major airline and got accepted. I’ve been flying with them for the past almost 25 years.”

For privacy purposes Montgomery can’t reveal the airline he works for but he does say it is a U.S. based airline. He does fly internationally and with spending so much time in the air he says his job does get stressful.

“My flights are anywhere between 10-17 hours in the air. That environment alone creates its own issues that people can’t really understand if you work in an office and you go home every day, it’s a completely different lifestyle [being an airline pilot].”

Weather can also be a source of stress for pilots. Montgomery says weather plays a huge role in short flights and long flights. Everything from thunderstorms to snow and ice covered runways can cause problems.

But the one thing you might think to be a major source of stress for a pilot, mechanical issues, is actually pretty low on their list of stresses.

“People would think that’s why it’s stressful being a pilot, is that you have to deal with airplane problems, no that’s not true. Airplanes are extremely redundant, airplanes are designed that way, so [we have] back-ups to the back-ups in many cases on an airliner.”

Montgomery says pilots, depending on the airline, train every six-eight months on simulators to learn how to handle situations that might involve mechanical failures. He says in most cases the scenarios pilots practice in the simulators the majority of airline pilots will never have to face in their career.

But with all of the other stresses, Montgomery says to handle the challenges you just need to take care of yourself.

“If you recharge your batteries, if you get proper rest, eat a good meal that’s not airline food, that’s a great way to relieve that stress, and it really does work.”

Regardless of the challenges, Montgomery says he would never switch careers unless…

“I wouldn’t trade it for anything except maybe radio broadcasting. I came into this career thinking it was the best thing in the world and here I am all of these decades later and I still feel the same way, I still think it’s the best job in the world. I guess I’m attracted to stressful jobs.”

Note: Being a broadcaster ranks as #10 on the top 10 most stressful jobs list developed by

Tune in next week as we check out the #2 most stressful job, being a firefighter.

More Stressful Jobs

Airline Pilot - Jeff Montgomery (Photo provided by Jeff Montgomery)
Airline Pilot – Jeff Montgomery (Photo provided by Jeff Montgomery)

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