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Stress

Yes, an air tanker pilot job is stressful. When you're called out to a fire scene, you know you'll be flying into challenging conditions, and the slightest inattention to your work can result in a disaster. You can't put the plane on autopilot while you text your honey. You can't look at how spectacular the fire is, or count the other firefighting aircraft flying uncomfortably close to yours. You must be 100 percent focused, constantly observing and adapting to changing conditions, and ready to jump to your Plan B with a few seconds' notice. You do have a Plan B, don't you?

In the back of your mind, you're also aware that your aerial and ground teams might provide the final defense against a fire seemingly bent on consuming homes, farms, businesses, and perhaps even lives. Sometimes, your combined efforts may help to save an entire neighborhood, or maybe just one home or farm. In other cases, you might fight for hours only to see a wind-driven wall of flames leap a fire line, consuming everything in the fire's path. You'll have to be prepared for that outcome, too.

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