Every year people all over the world celebrate April Fools’ Day by playing different jokes and hoaxes on each other. Despite the common belief that failing to trick someone on All Fools’ may bring bad luck, the 1st of April is just another ordinary day for aviation professionals who cannot risk celebrating it due to flight safety issues. However, it does not mean that flight crew members ignore superstitions altogether. On the contrary, as in most professions that are considered to be relatively high-risk and require utmost responsibility, aviation specialists have some prejudices that might seem odd to the rest of mankind.
Many pilots and flight attendants believe in different signs before or during the flight. Like in many other professions where the difficulty of performance is often directly related to Mother Nature, a lot of superstitions are related to weather conditions. E.g. you shouldn’t poke your finger at the sky, because it may bring about bad weather. And if a pilot wants to compliment good weather conditions, he should address only the sun, but not the weather itself.
‘A lot of common superstitions which are shared by pilots are also dominant in other professions. Such signs as a black cat, Friday the thirteenth or whistling – all of these are believed to bring about bad luck by people all over the world, regardless of what they do for a living The same goes for good luck signs, such as spotting a rainbow or losing an earring,’ comments the CEO of the AviationCV.com Skaiste Knyzaite.
Obviously, there are some superstitions which are rife among aviation professionals only. For instance, scratching a fuselage on a course of the plane is believed to make it more durable and warrant performance regularity. If during the flight pilots encounter another airplane flying from an opposite direction, they consider it to be a bad sign. However, if there is an aircraft flying alongside towards the same direction, they take it as a good luck sign. Flight attendants have their own very specific yet simple superstition - if the first passenger who goes aboard is a man the flight will be easy.
One of the most commonly spread superstitions – pilots never take a photo of themselves in front of an aircraft prior to the flight. Another popular practice is when pilots smoke half-cigarettes before and finish smoking them after the flight. If a pilot happens to be a non-smoker, than he may take a bite of something and eat it up after the flight. But there also are some ‘local’ superstitions, e.g. Russian pilots avoid using the word ‘last’ in relevance to any case. Instead, they prefer to say ‘concluding’ or ‘ultimate’. They also use ‘the second circle’ term referring to any landing attempt (regardless whether it is truly the second or in fact already the fifth one).
Flight crew members also look for a number of signs they consider to be fortunate. If a steward spills some drinks on-board, if his/her suitcase is broken and even if after rising the moon shines from the right side – this will surely bring money!
‘Of course there are many flight crew members who are sceptical towards these and other superstitions. But even they sometimes succumb to certain traditions or rituals. For example, some pilots never write the destination in the logbook till they reach the airport. Some cannot handle waiting for the vacant lavatory in front of all passengers and thus monitor the bathroom door through a camera. And, of course, there are pilots who pee on a wheel to show that they have mastered the aircraft. In any case, aviation not unlike any other profession has its own traditions and beliefs which were, are and will always be practiced, regardless of whether you are a superstitious person in general or not,’ concluded Skaiste Knyzaite.