The airline pilot’s wife: A qualitative study exploring the experiences of wives of male regional airline pilots
McPherson, Kalvanetta Michelle
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Regional airline pilots often work days away from home. For regional airline pilots who are married with children, working away from home can place the responsibilities of the home and family in the care of the pilot’s spouse. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the lived experiences of the wives of regional airline pilots. A phenomenological approach was used in order to allow each participant to share her story. This study was framed using the family systems theory. Ten wives of regional airline pilots with at least one dependent child living in the home were recruited through a social networking platform. Each participant completed an online questionnaire which included demographic information as well two reflective questions. Participants also participated in a semi-structured interview with the researcher. The interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. The data were analyzed and coded in order to develop three major themes: (a) Flexibility in Daily Living, (b) Unpredictable Family Relationships, and (c) Benefits. The study revealed that each individual in the family impacts the family system as well as each subsystem. When the pilot is working away from home, the pilot’s wife can feel overwhelmed, lonely, or even resentful, while at the same time she is experiencing life without him and exercising her independence. In order to maintain the boundaries within each subsystem, communication is key. When the pilot returns home, the family begins the process of self-stabilization which includes being flexible with their routine and special events in order to include the pilot, as well as appreciating the time together as a family. The implications and limitations of this study were included as well as recommendations for future research.