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  • Writer's pictureHerb Jackson Jr

The skills from airline piloting that I’ve transferred to acting

While I was contemplating leaving my career as an airline pilot, I thought I’d be giving up everything I had learned and trained for over the last few decades.

I always thought that acting and flying were two vastly different disciplines, but little did I know that many skills are transferable.

Switching career paths in the middle of your life can feel daunting, especially when you think about all the retraining, you’ll have to do to get back to the top of your game again.

But soon you start to realize that every career has interchangeable skills – regardless of how different they may seem at face value.

Here are some of the skills from airline piloting that I’ve transferred over to acting:


Like any career you enter, having the discipline to be better and improve every day is a seriously important skill to have.

I worked for decades to get to the top of my game as an airline pilot, and the hard work and discipline it took for me to live my childhood dream gave me the success that I wanted.

Now that I’ve turned to acting, it’s a whole other side of discipline.

You may have to face rejections, disappointment at not getting the parts you wanted etc. but being strong and disciplined when it comes to mastering your craft will be the thing that gets you up in the morning and hustling even more.


Flying a plane is extremely checklist orientated; you have to flick the right switches, press the right buttons and follow all of the procedures to ensure a safe flight for everyone on board.

Although acting is a creative career, there are still a lot of procedures you have to follow. From warming up your body and voice, getting into character and learning how to shoot a scene.


When you’re flying a plane of passengers, you can’t afford to lose focus for a second, and it’s very much the same with acting.

You can’t break character, forget your lines, or waste the production team’s time. You need to stay focused and do your job to the best of your ability.


Finally, the last skill that I have found transferable in acting is dedication.

Flying a plane and acting aren’t things that you can master overnight, and they’re both seriously hard jobs.

From long and unsociable hours to demanding weather conditions, it can be tough. You have to be dedicated and passionate enough about the work you’re doing to push through all these things.

These skills I acquired as an airline pilot are beneficial to me as I work on becoming an actor.

They both require a high level of focus, attention to detail, and the ability to stay calm under pressure.

What do you think?

Have you ever tried learning a new skill by transferring the knowledge you already have?

Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading

Captain Herb Jackson Jr in the flight deck
Captain Herb Jackson Jr

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