Date: June 23, 2014
Place: U.S. Marine Corps Base, Quantico, VA
Interview: Captain Pete Benning, U.S. Marine Pilot
Captain Pete, Marine pilot, talks about his job, the Osprey aircraft and how to prepare for a mission.
Captain Pete Benning, Pilot, U.S. Marine Corps
You know there's no better feeling that being up in the air and being able to take your airplane and go wherever you need to go. It is one of the greatest jobs that you could have. It is thoroughly rewarding.
I wanted to become a pilot because my dad's a pilot and I wanted to be in the military. I wanted to serve my country and it's really cool.
Narrator: Captain Benning flies the Osprey, a Tiltrotor aircraft. It's both a plane and a helicopter. You can move the propellers from a down position, like an airplane, or you can move them up, like a helicopter.
There's two sets of controls in the aircraft, so either pilot can fly. You have your screens here, which pass you all your flight information, altitude [how high in the air you are], air, speed. The screen in the middle here that kind of helps you with navigation [process of finding your way to get to a place] and monitors your systems that are on your aircraft. Let’s you know how your engines are running and how much fuel you have.
What do you like about your job?
So the part I like most about my job is that it's very fluid. There’s something always happening; there's something always changing. There’s always a new mission [important assignment or task]; there's always a new flight to go on. In the last couple of months, I've been to San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Normandy, France.
How do you prepare for a mission?
There's a lot of young marines that maintain these airplanes. They do all of the maintenance on these planes. They fuel them, they make sure they’re all serviced correctly and they’re ready for us to go fly. And they do a fantastic job.
For a successful mission, [it] actually starts way before that, days to weeks prior. All the marines I was talking about, they start getting the aircraft ready. They start packing everything up and getting ready to get on board airplanes, to move to a site location [place you are traveling to] or getting the aircraft prepared to fly to that site location and as in most jobs a lot of it is in the preparation.
What does it take to be a pilot?
Pay attention in all your math classes. In the cockpit [front of the aircraft] you're always figuring things out, distances, fuels. Eye-hand coordination [control of eye movement with hand movement] some, but if you pay attention in school, listen to your teachers, listen to your parents, anybody can be a pilot. It just takes discipline and work and passion, drive.