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Ask the pilot: Captain Stephen Riley

So what’s it like to fly a British Airways aeroplane? In the second of a new series, Captain Stephen Riley reveals his most memorable flights — and passengers
Aviation is in my blood — my father was a pilot and my mother was cabin crew. From a young age, I was surrounded by people talking about the airline industry. I never wanted to be anything other than a pilot.
Back in the days when you could travel in the flight deck, I accompanied my father on a trip to New York. It was fascinating and exciting. Even now it's special to me and flying to New York is my favourite route.
My flying heroes aren't exactly traditional: Chuck Yeager, who broke the sound barrier, and Neil Armstrong. Space is one of the ultimate feats of exploration and I grew up watching the Apollo launches. If I wasn't a pilot I would be an astronaut.
"Welcome to the best job in the world," said the training captain when I qualified with BA. He was right. It's a fascinating role and I'm phenomenally proud of what our pilots do. BA is the only airline I've worked for since joining in 1989 and for me is the pinnacle of the airline industry. Why would I want to work anywhere else?
My preparation for flying starts the day before, checking I'm up to speed with all the latest procedures and rules and, of course, packing.
Every day I strive to be better than I was yesterday. Ongoing training and continuous improvement are part of being a pilot, not only to operate the aircraft but to look after the customer and work best with your colleagues.
The Queen and a former Prime Minister have flown on my flights — both were a little nerve-wracking. Seeing the rugged mountains and glaciers of Greenland from the cockpit is spectacular on a clear day. It looks inhospitable and almost unearthly but absolutely beautiful.
Captain Stephen Riley is director of flight operations for British Airways.
Have you got any questions for BA's pilots? If so please leave them in the comments box below and we may include them in future interviews.

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Priscilla McInnes Queiroz Campos

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