View Full Version : A short pilot!

Jerry Lee
12th Dec 2010, 22:55
The height has always been a problem for me: I'm just 158-159 cm.
Would I have any problems flying (one day) the most common jet like A320, 737, 757, A330 and so on?

As far as I know, there are no height limitation, both in JAA and FAA regulations, but I noticed that some airlines has minimum limit.
Air Italy has 172 cm, Lufthansa and Lufthansa Italia 165 cm, but British Airways 157 cm:)

What do you think? Can I still become an airline pilot?

12th Dec 2010, 23:50
At 5'1 I don't think you'll have too much of a problem.

Also at 18 yrs of age, I doubt you've totally finished growing yet!

13th Dec 2010, 00:05
I once had the odd experience of watching a short woman seated in a DC-10 simulator being given a height check by a check airman. She merely had to demonstrate the ability to achieve sufficient control-throw on the primary flight controls and the ability to reach all overhead switches related to memory items on the emergency checklist. It was over in 20 minutes. This was a major airline.

As far as being an airline pilot? Think really hard about that one. There are far better risks out there.:rolleyes:

13th Dec 2010, 01:04
Jerry, I know nothing about being a professional pilot (I'm PPL(H)), but:

1. You have posted a grammatically good and spelling perfect post and I suspect English is not your first language.
2. You articulate your question elegently.
3. You are 18, literate, numerate and confident.
4. You state your height is a problem for you but include researched facts and figures which most would not have bothered finding out before posting.

You are already above the rest.

13th Dec 2010, 03:53
Jerry, I don't think you'd have a problem with the big jets.

The problem is with small GA aircraft, especially the American variety. They seem to best fit pilots with long bodies and short legs !

p.s. I'm a shortie too. :p

13th Dec 2010, 06:13
Jerry: It just occured to me that my post sounds like she failed. Far from it, they both had a good time. The height requirement is related to your ability to fully move the controls and reach switches. I have survived several episodes of the pilot seat sliding full aft in old planes from a worn out latch or track. That's when being short can be a liability.
( plus being unable to ride a Super-Moto. Waaaaaa!

Seriously, it's not a big deal. All I have to say is you have to want it more than anything, and accept the profession for what it is and what it is becoming. Which is not what it used to be. Good luck ( and seniority!)

13th Dec 2010, 08:38
Finally, proof that there really is a pilot shortage :rolleyes:...oh come on, someone had to say it!

Dont let height stop you....only width and depth.

14th Dec 2010, 14:01
Talking about heights, is there any height restriction? I never really thought about this until I read this thread. I'm about 195 cm

14th Dec 2010, 14:29
Shortest pilot I know is 4ft 9in, and he's a TRE. He uses built-up shoes to reach the pedals but otherwise it's not a problem. Good pilot too.

Genghis the Engineer
14th Dec 2010, 18:49
American built light aeroplanes have a problem in both directions to be honest. I'm 5ft 6" and often have to use a booster cushion in many (although not all to be fair) light aeroplanes.

But, it can all be dealt with. I have a colleague a bit shorter than me, who is coming towards the end of his career as a fighter pilot, then test pilot, and finally research pilot. I don't think that his height has ever been other than a term of abuse!

Whirlybird, who you'll most often find on the rotary and private forums, is I think about 5cm shorter than you Jerry Lee, and she has worked as a commercial helicopter pilot and as a flying instructor, and now continues to make a good living writing flight test reports for various flying magazines. That said, I know that her car also has a boot full of different thickness "cockpit cushions" which are in regular use!


15th Dec 2010, 17:06
According to my knowledge, which might not be the best source of information in this thread, but still, anything down to 5ft 2' is acceptable without needing booster cushions and heighted shoes. I myself am exactly 5'2 and am a student pilot. I have not starting the flying stage in my course just yet but have done a reasonable amount of research on this topic as I am really short myself.

However, one article that did scare me was a reply, to a similar question to the one raised here, by Captain Lim. (AskCaptainLim[dot][com]).
Apparently a fellow trainee of his was terminated from training after failing to recover from a maneuver as he was unable to reach the rudder pedals whilst in a bank turn.

Then again, we have a flight simulator at our academy and I can just about fit in and reach everything. I hope for all short peoples sake that we'll be okay!

17th Dec 2010, 10:00
Recently I have become envious of skinny guys. Why?
Simply because SIZE DOES MATTER. Or rather, weight - rotary flying wise.

I'd rather be shorter (and light) pilot than my 181ish cm/6ft with added weight.

Try being competitive as R22 instructor at 190-200 lbs plus clothing on top, when due to students well above 200lbs, to get reasonable amount of 100LL in, the flying weight should be 170lbs or less for R22 B or BII models. As if it's not enough R22 cockpit is quire crammed already.

As others mention, your height isn't deal breaker. In the military, many hopefuls were weeded out on applications due to being too tall for fast jets (fancy losing knees and below on ejection??)

Be glad you're not too tall and/or heavy. That's bit harder to adjust with something simple as shoes or cushions.

Enjoy training. Try tailwheel as well. :ok:

17th Dec 2010, 10:51
I'm 5ft4in and have been told that I shouldn't have a problem with larger aircraft. However, I require a booster seat for C172 and PA28 (although not C152), which I have trained in, to reach the pedals and see out! I also noticed that Lufthansa published a height restriction, in relation to their recent recruitment, of a minimum height of 165cm (sorry I can't remember the maximum height)! Echoing a previous post, being small and relatively light can make things easier for weights and balances!

Genghis the Engineer
17th Dec 2010, 13:21
A passing thought.

Anybody making or buying cushions for flying - DO NOT USE SOFT FOAMS. You must use stiff or conformal foams such as dynafoam (http://www.afeonline.com/shop/product_info.php?products_id=422).


Because in a very hard landing whilst sat on a soft foam cushion, the aeroplane will hit the ground and start to recoil upwards again whilst your body is still travelling downwards. The result is a much amplified shock through your spine and significantly increased risk of spinal injuries.

Also cheap soft foams are probably very flammable.

In a previous existence where I did a lot of design approvals work on light aeroplanes, I specified I think it was 2" of dynafoam in the seats of a particular aeroplane, which a year later suffered an accident where after an EFATO the aeroplane was turned back, stalled at low level, stalled to the ground and the nose, undercarriage and wings destroyed. The pilot and passenger walked away without any injuries. I'm certain that the dynafoam played a large part in that.


18th Dec 2010, 12:15
@<hidden> Broomstick
The body weight is very, very significant thing in R22 - used by vast majority of heli schools, ie virtually the only way to get a job after commercial (instructing), with exception of couple countries (years 'wasted' and luck, too) and JAA IR(H) and being lucky/having right nationality.
The height doesn't also bother people flying light helicopters as there's plenty plexiglass to look through.

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