All in a day's work: Ralph inspects the engines on his pre-flight walk around. All photos: Stuart Bailey

THE FLIGHTDECK • September 2018

Pilot talk: Ralph Turan

Ralph Turan
Ralph Turan

British Airways First Officer

Taking time out of his busy flying schedule, British Airways First Officer, Ralph Turan talks Tuscan cuisine, packing essentials and childhood dreams as he gives Executive Club Members a look behind the cockpit door

What is your favourite view from the cockpit?
It has to be the incredible view of London we see when we’re landing into London City Airport, especially at night. We fly right over Big Ben, The Shard and Tower Bridge at 2,000 feet, lower than any other commercial aircraft due to the steep approach we have to take coming in.

Where do you most look forward to a stopover?
Of all the places throughout Europe, I most enjoy a night in Edinburgh. It’s one of the most beautiful cities I’ve been to, especially in August when the Edinburgh Fringe comedy festival is on. The whole city comes alive with comedians and performers; it’s a tremendous atmosphere.

What’s the hardest thing about the job?
Being away from home as often as we are. Even though we get to see some wonderful places, our trips can last up to five days at a time, which can be hard on both pilots and loved ones.

And the best thing?
I’ve wanted to be a pilot ever since I was about eight years old, so the best thing is getting to live that childhood dream. It’s an incredibly exciting career – each day is different and we’re continuously learning. I had a few jobs before becoming a pilot and they’ve made me realise how fortunate I am to have one now that I love so much.

An unexpected destination to which you love returning?
The first time I went to Berlin, I wasn’t blown away. However, the more I’ve visited, the more I’ve realised it’s a remarkable city, rebuilt from ruin with a truly fascinating past. There are endless museums – the most intriguing being the (free to visit) Topography of Terror, all about the Second World War. The people are very friendly and on summer days flock to the banks of the river Spree for a drink and a bite to eat.

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Where have you eaten your best meal?
I love Italian food and Florence has some of the best, especially in the surrounding Tuscan countryside. The classic Florentine dish, pappardelle alla lepre, a thin, wide pasta with a sauce made with tomato and hare, is delicious and can be found at most restaurants in the region.

Your number one packing essential?
I wouldn’t call it an essential, but I always take a pack of playing cards. It helps make long waits feel shorter and breaks the ice with new people. The same pack has travelled with me around the world and I’ve learnt many new games from people I’ve met.

What does the future of travel look like?
As new aircraft become more fuel-efficient we will see the introduction of non-stop, ultra-long-haul routes around the world. I’m sure London to Sydney non-stop will be high on the list.

Tell us something surprising about the cockpit.
The aircraft I fly has a horn! It’s operated by pressing a little button near the pilots’ legs and makes a sound much like the one in your car.

How does working at London City Airport compare with Heathrow or Gatwick?
London City is smaller than Heathrow and Gatwick, so it’s a quick check-in experience; you can be off an aircraft and into your car in just over five minutes. Also, the proximity of the airport to the city results in a unique landing – aircraft coming into Heathrow or Gatwick approach their runways at an angle of three degrees from the ground, we come in at 5.5 degrees.

What has been your coolest cockpit moment?
I was involved in a very special flight on behalf of Flying Start, British Airways’ charity partnership with Comic Relief. We flew those who had been injured or lost loved ones in the Manchester Arena attack to Paris for a day out in Disneyland. You could see the day meant so much to them, and I was really honoured to be a part of it.

This article has been tagged BA, Travel Tips