Dr. Chris Manno flies a full schedule as a captain at a major US airline and teaches college writing as an adjunct professor of English. A former USAF pilot stationed in the Pacific at Kadena AB, Japan, and Hickam AFB, Hawaii, he started his airline career in 1985 and has been a captain since 1991; also, a Pilot Check Airman from 1999-2001. He currently flies the Boeing 737-800 all over North America.

Military Flying: USAF 79-85. All civilian (airline only) since 1985.


ATP, B-737, B-707, DC-10, DC-9, F-100


BA, English, Virginia Military Institute

MA, Business Management, Central Michigan University

PhD, English, Texas Christian University


55 Responses to “About”

  1. Chris,
    your ‘jethead’ blogs are excellent !
    Short, to the point, well written and funny.
    Although I have retired 2 weeks ago, still very busy though, I enjoy reading your texts. Only thing: add more cartoons, and use less text in them, and the total picture becomes even better.
    And I am interested in the cartoons for book 3 !!
    Many happy landings (how long until you have to stop ??)

  2. Do you know the average AA flight attendant makes 40K? God, you must be making $50,000,000 then.

  3. Victoria Says:

    This traveler loves your blog! Too bad I don’t often fly AA – it would be a kick to find you on my flight.

  4. i love your blog and will be flying from seattle to DFW soon. i’m tempted to fly AA (though i never do) just to try my luck at having you as a captain. what are my odds?

  5. Hi, nice to meet you !

  6. I’ve recently published a how-to guide for pilots on how to start and operate an aerial photography business. The guide is called Fly and Earn: The Official Aerial Photography Business Kit and it is for sale on my website for $35 (pdf). And it is a business for student, private and non-current pilots as well – it’s all detailed in the kit.

    If this is something you would like to cover in your blog, I can offer you a 30% commission on any purchases your readers make through a click-through link on your site. I am a vendor on ClickBank and it is free to become an Affiliate to promote the business kit.

    Let me know if this is something you would like to do, and I’ll send you the link to post on your site.


    Jay Taffet

  7. Chris,

    What a wonderful blog this is! Have spent the evening reading it and as a frequent flyer (BA, KLM, Lufthansa, Air France, so just European airlines I’m afraid) I really appreciate all the inside info from the flight deck, regardless of being a white-knuckle flyer or not 🙂 Congrats on being freshly pressed and looking forward to follow your blog!

  8. Thanks for sharing the insider scoop…am loving your blog and just had to reblog one of your posts for more ‘fraidy cats like me. You posts calmed my nerves so it will probably help loads of other people too 🙂

  9. u r changing avatar so frequently.

  10. Would practice area 3 be described in any one of these following posts?

  11. David Fuhrer Says:

    You possess the “rock star” of airline pilot blogs…just stop being so “self important”…wait, your not…that’s why your blog is truly “in tune”. Take it easy Chris…hopefully our paths cross one day.


  12. wow, how do you find time for all that?

  13. I’m enjoying your blog very much! LOL You do have a way with words! As an English teacher, I give you an A+! Please continue your writing!

    • I agree: words matter–a lot. All we say vanishes when we do, but for the good writing that really does matter–and is all that endures anyway.

      Thanks for reading–

  14. Allison Dickenson Says:

    So glad to see you are educating others and also continuing your education! Looking forward to more posts. I know you had some very nasty weather and damage yesterday, hope all loved ones and yourself are well. Sending prayers your way!

    Allison Dickenson

  15. Really enjoy reading your blog! Just new to the blog world myself. Would love to hear what you think of my posts when you have time.

    • I like your posts so far–keep up the good work. Your writing is well done, sotto voce and smooth, not loud and blabby like “that guy” on the PA who goes overboard like his audience wasn’t captive and not really there to hear lame stand-up or chatty nonsense.

      Your writing gives the reader a chance to live the experience rather than have it just told, a very fine line which divides the good writers from the (“. . . that’s right, folks, blah blah blah”) self-aggrandizing hacks. They make us all look foolish.

      Rare, and well-written. I’ll be following–want to do a link swap?

  16. Hey there! I just finished listening to the Airplane Geeks episode with you as the co-host. It was great to hear an active airline captain’s perspective on things. I just found a new podcast to listen to and it seems that your blog is just as interesting. You’re living my dream and you’re good at telling people about it. Keep at it! 🙂

  17. Hi Chris,

    I listened a couple of days ago to the Airplane Geeks podcast that had you on as a guest. I then went and downloaded several of your podcasts and so far my two favorites are the SR-71 and B-2! Great stuff! I have not listened to the spy one(newest I believe) yet but will in the day or so. Keep up the good work and I look forward to more interested stuff!

  18. Paul L. Quandt Says:

    Hi Captain Chris:

    Just stumbled upon your blog today and have spent the last seven hours reading your posts and the comments.
    I shall make this a regular stop as I have greatly enjoyed what I have read. Keep up the good work, both in the air and on the net.

    Paul L. Quandt

  19. CMSgt Jim Holden (Ret) Says:

    Chris, I am still caring for originals of some of your earliest cartoons re. Lanza and Hoff era. Still remember the good old days at Kadena and the 909th & LCol Jester.

  20. Cedarglen (Craig) Says:

    Happy New Year Captain Chris. I read your year-end stats a couple of weeks ago and discovered that, at least for 2012, I was your most frequent commenter. Ouch! I’ll continue reading, but I’ve hit my embedded mute button. Sorry about that! As a rough guess, half of my comments/replies were content related and half were simple thanks for blogging what you blog. Writers need feedback. I like your writing, but I don’t need to be number one; you already know that you write well. As noted, mute button is pushed. Please know that your posts are read and enjoyed. Best wishes, -C.

  21. Mike in YPPH Says:

    Hi Chris,

    Would you consider writing a post on the pro’s and con’s of visual versus ILS approaches? As a layperson, it would seem to me that ILS is the way to go, let the plane fly the approach leaving you free to monitor the aircraft and systems and then taking over at decision height for a smooth touchdown.

    I’ve also heard ATC issue instructions such as ‘Descend to 5,000 feet visual’ – what is the significance of ‘visual’ there?

    Also, I’d be interested to hear about RNAV approaches.

    Cheers Chris,


    • You may have the wrong idea regarding ILS approaches: ILS refers to the instrument guidance, not that the aircraft is coupled and flown by the autopilot. I’m always in favor of the ILS because it gives course AND glide slope guidance.

      I’ve never heard the term “descend visual” given by ATC.

      • Oh OK, I clearly did have the wrong impression – I thought making an ILS approach by definition meant the aircraft was on autopilot.

        So in that case, why would you fly he aicraft manually rather than coupling the ILS and autopilot down to decision height? It would seem to offer the opportunity of reducing the workload during that critical phase freeing the crew up to monitor the aircraft and systems.

      • The most obvious downside to a coupled approach to decision height is finding yourself hand-flying instantly with only 200 feet to touchdown; figuring out winds and trim in a matter of twenty seconds. It can be done, but IMO, I’d prefer to be comfortably hand-flying from about ten or more miles out (that’s not an increased workload–it’s what we do as pilots) to touchdown.

        In the worst weather, Cat 3, the 737-800 requires a hand-flown landing. Again, why wait till the last second to get the feel of the jet, winds and all the cues you need to land?

        ILS is just guidance. And there are warning systems for the aircraft systems–wouldn’t be smart to be “monitoring” systems while the autopilot flew the jet to minimums and in my opinion, it’s easier to fly it myself rather than closely monitor the autopilot to be sure it’s performing correctly rather than doing it myself: when I follow the ILS by hand, no worries about the autopilot.

  22. Mike in YPPH Says:

    Instantly makes sense but raises a question – under what circumstances would you use autoland, or is that strictly for fog where, I presume, there would be minimal wind?

    • The crosswind limitation goes down as the visibility diminishes, but on the 737-800, even Cat 3 (600 feet forward visibility, no ceiling) is hand flown–no autoland.

  23. Hey Chris! Love your blog. Always entertaining and informative. Wondering if you have advertising or guest post opportunities? Or perhaps can do product reviews? I would love to collaborate a bit. Couldn’t find an email address to reach you so figured I’d reach out here. Please email me back and we can chat a bit more.

  24. […] and that collectively create and express a “corporate culture.” The first is from Chris Manno, an American Airlines captain who blogs under the name JetHead. In “Airline Pilot […]

  25. Matthew Gregerson Says:

    Hello Capt. Manno! I’m a 16 year old student who has recently found your blog and love the stories! My overall goal in life is to become a pilot for Southwest Airlines (Nothing against American). I want to attend the US Air Force Academy after high school, but have been up in the air about going to USAFA for school and then having the government pay for my flight training. My other option would be attending Purdue University and paying for it myself. I am currently trying to obtain my Private Pilot’s License at a discounted rate through the Civil Air Patrol (United States Air Force Auxiliary). What would you recommend as opinion? USAFA or Purdue?
    Thanks, and I wish you a great rest of your career!

    • Honestly, while I think my Air Force pilot days were the perfect lead-in to the airline flying, today I wouldn’t do the Air Force unless it was with the Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard. They have their own squadron aircraft and if they send you to pilot training, you’re coming back to fly their jets. But the active duty Air Force will send you to flight school, then very well can stick you in a trailer in some god-forsaken place flying a Predator by remote control. Even if you make it to an operational aircraft squadron, you could at any time get dragged into the Predator world and never see another real aircraft. Also, some pilots graduate then are put on hold status, flying a desk for a few years. YGTBSM. And when they come back to flying, they get a real short-course in the T-38, from which some wash out. End of flying career.

      USAFA is top of the line. I chose The Virginia Military Institute because I knew myself–I needed 4 years of spartan life and hard work to achieve the dual goals of an Air Force commission and an assignment to flight school. I got both–but my son, also a pilot, much smarter than me, and a captain in the AFRES–managed the same degree at Florida State and I’m certain, had a lot more fun.

      Good luck–and do look into the AFRES and ANG for excellent flying opportunities.

  26. I love your blog, Sir! 🙂 I can only imagine what it would be like to have such a “cool” English teacher. My-soon-to-be hubby used to fly UA and is back in the USAF now. His times slowly comes to an end though and we’re trying to figure out whether to go back to United or stick to his government job.

    • That’s a tough call. The USAF offers more stability in income and, if you’re not rated in the bottom of your peer group, more stable employment.

      Coming back to any airline on the low end of the pilot seniority list is ugly: low pay, the worst trips, no control over your schedule, and the constant threat of another furlough. Going to be some rough years if you accept recall.

      On the other hand, it’s pure flying: no additional duties like in the AF, just show up and fly a new jet around the country.

      Good luck with the decision, whatever you choose.

      • Thanks for answering! Well he’s still with United (has been on military leave for 9 years though!). I can see someone completely new starting all over getting the shitty deal but military leave doesn’t really have the same effect, right?

      • Not sure about United, but at AA we haven’t hired any pilots since 2002, so nine years off still means starting at the bottom of the list. We all start there, but I did it when I was 30 and I’m not sure I’d want to attempt that indentured servitude much later in life, especially with a wife and kids involved–dad/husband will be absent constantly!

        This may be why the 40-something furloughees are not coming back in droves. Most know they’ll never make captain and will have to suck up bottom reserve status as an F/O for years. Not a pretty picture.

  27. what a great blog ! thanks !

  28. Andrew McCallum Says:

    Mr Chris Manno,
    My name is Andrew McCallum and I teach English at a school in Japan.
    The reason why I have contacted you is because I have started a project with my kids and due to your work online and piloting experience, I was wondering if you would be willing to read a physical letter and respond to one of the students in my class that has a dream of becoming a pilot? Thank you for taking the time to read this message and for the good work that you do.

  29. Richard B. Says:

    Dr. Mano,

    I am writing to let you know how much I enjoy reading your blog and twitter feed. I feel that it is sometimes necessary to provide this sort of positive feedback to persons such as yourself who share a portion of their life with the world.

    I particularly like your posts that revolve around the human side of aviation and the thechnical aspects of your job. Please keep them coming.

    I’ve noticed that production of the audio podcast has slowed. I hope it will resume soon.

    I also miss your “foodie” updates/pictures of various meals and airport dinning experiences.

    Again, thank you, and keep up the fine work.

    Richard Biase
    Morristown, NJ

    • No worries–I’m still writing, just a little slower in the near term because the new semester is now in full swing, and 37 university students face me weekly deserving most of my concentrated and somewhat limited brain wattage, plus I fly a full schedule, too.

      Things will ease up toward midterm.

  30. Hi Chris

    I came across your blog in December and read it all the way through. Very well written,and easy to understand. Sitting in the back, I’ve often wondered what was going on “up front”. Now, thanks to you, I have a pretty good idea. For the past few days I’ve been trying to listen to your podcast’s, however they won’t load for me. I’ve tried on multiple devices to either download or stream them. Am I doing something wrong?Anyways, Looking forward to your next installment.

  31. Hi, Chris!
    There’s a thread on Airliners.net about SXM, which devolved into an argument whether commercial pilots hotdog low landings and do up-against-the-fence, engines-firewalled, stand-on-the-brakes takeoffs. On purpose 🙂

    And since AA puts 738s into SXM and you fly 738s…I thought I’d ask the expert. Thanks!

    • “Hotdog low landings?” You mean intentionally fly extremely low? The answer is no. Why would anyone? But beyond common sense, there is procedure and every alarm in the book that would go off both in the radar approach control and in the cockpit–which includes the digital data stream from the jet in real time that is scanned and flagged for review when exactly such an exceedance is inevitably noted. That will get your license suspended by the FAA and you fired by the airline.

      The takeoff thing sounds like another back-of-the-plane happy hour tale (“There I was …”) that is the embellished recall of a max power takeoff on a short runway. The procedure is to hold the brakes until the computed takeoff power setting is achieved, then release the brakes. For example, at John Wayne-Orange County Airport, the runway is so short there’s none to waste as the engines spool up. The power setting is determined by the aircraft weight and the outside air temp. That’s not “hotdogging” either–that’s engineering and standard operating procedure.

      On purpose? If that’s the standard operating procedure, we follow it. Otherwise, no; no one in this profession gets off on “hotdogging,” or they get fired and find some other career.

      • Thanks for you response! In 45+ comments, no one has mentioned the data recording and the subsequent review that you mentioned. Makes a great deal of sense.

      • The program no one is mentioning is called “FOQUA,” pronounced “foe-qua,” and it stands for “Flight Operations Quality Assurance.” Every major airline has the program, which is endorsed by every major pilot union. The aircraft streams data regarding speed, altitude, thrust, descent rates, power settings, sink/climb rates and more back to a data center in real time. Anything outside of normal parameters will be flagged and the pilots will answer for it.

        I think the program is a great boon to flight safety and probably a major contributing factor to the excellent flight safety record we have in this country.

  32. […] airline captain Chris Manno wrote that the drone threat is overblown on his blog JetHead. “[W]hile the new hobbyist drones begin to enjoy an increasing level of retail sales, the bird […]

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