China Southern’s James Wu Lives the High Life
James Wu knew he wanted to be a pilot from a young age, and now, at 29, he is the youngest captain at China Southern Airlines. Born in Kaifeng, China, and trained in Perth, Australia, James has flown to over ten countries in the past eight years. Between flights, James took time to sit down with Grade 1 students at Western Academy of Beijing to answer questions about life in the sky.
Odin Loehr, 7, USA
How many years have you worked on the airlines?
Up to now, I’ve been a civil aviation pilot for eight years. If you include my training in Perth, Australia, that’s 12 years now.
Kaisla Hope, 7, Finland
How many people do you work with?
In the cockpit, usually we have two people. One is the captain, like me, and another one is my officer. The captain sits in the left seat, and the co-pilot sits on the right, like how you drive a car in China.
Sung Cho, 7, Korea
Is your job easy or hard?
That depends. If you are in training, that’s very hard. But if you are the captain like me, I think it’s easy. I put data in the computer and tell the computer exactly what to do. For most aircrafts, the autopilot will control the aircraft with the command from a pilot.
Henna Sibakov, 6, Finland
How many hours do you work in one day?
I have flown directly from Guangzhou to Los Angeles over the Pacific Ocean, and that took 15 hours. The Chinese have laws about the number of hours of duty time. Pilots are not allowed to fly more than 14 hours per day.
Mu Chen He, 7, Canada
How do you fly a plane?
When you sit in the capsule, you need do some preparation before you fly the plane – fill enough fuel according to the distance you are going to fly and check all the different systems, including electronic and gas, the hydraulic pressure and fuel systems. Then you have to input your flying plan into the computer. You inform the controller you are ready to fly, and he sends your flying information to all related control towers. Then, you can start flying.
Sarah Markmann, 7, Denmark
What is the most scary thing that can happen while flying?
The scariest thing is engine failure. Ninety-nine percent of pilots think that is very, very scary.
Bronte Grimmer, 7, Canada
Have you ever crashed?
Jaison Damany, 7, USA
How high do you fly?
For my aircraft, the Boeing 737-800, we can fly at 41,000 feet above ground level.
YaYa Bernell, 7, USA
Have you ever run out of fuel?
Never, I’m a good pilot. I would not allow this to happen on my aircraft. I am responsible for my aircraft and my passengers.
Henry Ting, 7, Canada
What is your fastest speed?
That depends on which aircraft you fly. For my aircraft, the fastest speed is Mach .82.
Aleksi Hope, 7, Finland
What do you put in the plane to make it go?
Fuel, and your passengers. But jet fuel – not like the gas you put in a car.
Mindy Li, 6, USA
Do you ever sleep on the plane?
Yes, of course. The air law allows the pilots to do that. But not all the people sleep at the same time. For example, if the cockpit has three pilots, the law allows one of them to sleep. For some of the bigger aircrafts, there is a special room for pilots to rest.
Yuval Ginossar, 7, Israel
How warm is it in the plane?
We set the temperature in the cabin the same as on the ground to make people feel comfortable. For example, if we fly over 30,000 feet, the outside temp will be -40°C, but in the cabin, it’s 24°C or 25°C, so you feel comfortable.
Aleksi Hope, 7, Finland
Do you ever fight other planes?
Oh no – only guys in the air force do that.