Being a girlfriend of a pilot can be hard. Really hard. Especially when you aren’t even based in the same country. Many people ask me if I am worried about him cheating- heck, my uncle (a retired pilot) even warned me about the cheating, but when you put long distance + pilot together, the only solution = trust.
I’ve been a pilot’s girlfriend for 1 year and 8 months.
We can’t make set plans
At the moment he is based in Kabul, Afghanistan on contract work. His ‘home’ is South Africa, mine is Kenya. Unfortunately its not as easy just to pack up and move to one or the others country (me to his, really. Trust me, I have tried). So not only do we need to manage the long distance relationship, we need to handle the ‘pilots life’ side of things. The contract may be 8 weeks on, 4 weeks off, but until he is actually on the plane to me, we can’t plan ahead. He might be asked (told) to stay another week; he could be called back earlier- either way, making plans is tough and often is last minute. It’s something that I know and accept. It may be frustrating at times, but as long as I get to see him, I’m happy.
We always dreaded and looked forward to the next months schedule.Would he be off on his birthday? Would he be off on NYE? We knew that that schedule defined the next month’s activities. We knew the schedule could always change.
His previous company when he was on duty, he could be at home, but couldn’t go very far. My job allowed the flexibility at the time to stay with him for a few weeks, but day trips, let alone nights away, were non existent unless it was a double day off. Even then, there was a chance he might be asked to come in.
Knowing the lingo
I take an interest in his job, as much as I can. I would like to think that I have learnt a lot and can generally keep up with a conversation with him and his other pilot friends. Often, I’m the only non pilot or non aviation related girlfriend!
We need to stay independent, but true to one another
I have my life here, he has his in South Africa + wherever he is based at the time, but when we are together, we are one. I try to keep busy with my job, friends and my recent fitness craze to keep me sane. If I don’t and I allow myself to miss him, it’s hard to handle.
Hand in hand with trust comes communication. We talk every day, even if its just for a short chat. He always lets me know when he’s landed. Some days he is gone and back before I wake up, other days he is flying to 2-3 cities and won’t be back until late afternoon then has flight plans to prep for the next day. Our communication doesn’t mean there is a lack of trust, but rather its a foundation that we have created to deal with the distance.
Jealousy of others
I don’t like to admit this, but there are moments when I am jealous of other couples. I am jealous that they get to spend every day together, and every night going to bed with each other. I know that I am not the first pilots girlfriend to feel this way!
It takes courage
In a way I would say it takes courage. It takes courage to know the lifestyle that you are getting yourself into, and accept it, support it and love your pilot through thick and thin. I don’t regret meeting my man and I wouldn’t change a thing.
When he is around, we are a little antisocial
The first week or 2 of having him back, we are a little antisocial and want to hide in our bubble and pretend the only 2 people that exist are us. It’s not that we don’t want to go for dinner, or parties, but we just want that alone time first. We may take time to respond, but don’t forget about us. We will come out from our bubble eventually, and knowing our friends are still there means everything to us. Knowing you accept that means even more.
I know I have it luckier than most at the moment that when he is back from contract, we get to spend 3-4 weeks at a time together. I know in the future when he goes into airlines, there will be a whole new side of things to get used to. For now, despite the aching heart, the jealousy of others, the tears, the paranoia of where he is; I would not take anything back because meeting him was the best thing that ever happened to me.