While this may not be a new depiction of the husband-wife relationship, it struck me as exceptionally apt.
The traditional set-up with the husband as head of the home and the wife in the supporting role has become increasingly harder to explain to the firmly egalitarian minds of modern times.
The wife's role has always been a crucial one in every society, whether the society respected that role or not.
Judaism takes this even further with statements from Yevamot 62b, declaring that a man without a wife lacks:
The Gemara also states a wife & a home are one & the same (implying that even if a man lives in a luxury house, it's not actually a "home" unless he's married).
The Bava Metzia's command to bend down & whisper to one's (generally) shorter wife is interpreted (by the Pele Yoetz among others) as a directive to take counsel with one's wife.
Yevamot 62a even goes to the extreme of declaring: "A man without a wife is not a man."
Furthermore, our classic Torah sources insist that the man's role as head of the home confers weight obligations & responsibilities upon him—far from archetype of benevolent dictator or self-serving lord that some people assume.
And while the Gemara & other Torah sources express strongly pro-marriage views for women, they don't go to the extreme of their views regarding marriage for men.
Furthermore, while Judaism expects women to get married, it's not an uncompromising commandment as it is for men.
Finally, the Hebrew word for "wife" or "woman" (ishah) contains the letter hei, which introduces Hashem's Name into the equation.
The Hebrew word for husband or man is ish (baal is specifically a husband)—both lack the letter that completes Hashem's Name.
All the above proves that the wife's role is not as an appendage or a glorified domestic, but absolutely essential for a man's very personhood & success in life.
Because a wife is the source of a man's essential vitality in life, Judaism expects a husband to relate to his wife with the appropriate love & appreciation.
How Does the Pilot/Co-Pilot Analogy Fit?
Pilots & co-pilots can both fly & land planes.
Technically, the difference is in rank. Usually, the pilot is more experienced than the co-pilot (U.S. airlines generally require 10 years of a co-pilot before becoming a pilot).
But not always.
Yet this varies from airline to airline.
For example, a co-pilot in one airline may have more flying hours than the pilot of another airline.
And even within the same airline, experience varies from plane to plane.
For example, a pilot flying an Airbus 320 may have less hours in that specific type than his co-pilot. (Meaning, the pilot accumulated more total hours in planes altogether, but most of those were spent in a Boeing 737, not an Airbus. Whereas perhaps the co-pilot accumulated fewer total hours, but has more experience than the pilot with an Airbus.)
Yes, the pilot is the captain of the plane & holds the most responsibility.
But the pilot & co-pilot work together, though technically the pilot outranks the co-pilot.
Their relationship operates similarly to how a marriage operates.
And just as in marriage, varied examples abound—both positive & negative.
3 Examples of Pilot/Co-Pilot Dysfunction
However, this doesn't always work. At the end of the day, a pilot is still a person (as is the co-pilot)—both imperfect by definition.
Analysis of cockpit voice recorders show that when either the pilot or the co-pilot fail to fulfill their role as necessary, this failure can result in fatal consequences.
For example, in the crashes of both Korean Air Flight 801 in 1997 and the Columbian Avianca Flight 52 in 1990, the co-pilot's reticence played a role in the fatal disasters.
In Korean Air, the co-pilot was unable to assert himself to correct the pilot, leading to a preventable plane crash.
The co-pilot kept hinting to the tired pilot about the poor weather & other factors that made landing a bad idea. Yet the co-pilot never went beyond hinting.
With Avianca, the pilot increasingly leaned on the co-pilot as their plane ran out of fuel, asking the co-pilot to confirm information ("Are we cleared to land, no?" "Confirm the wind." "Where is the runway?" "Advise him we are emergency!" "Did you already advise that we don't have fuel?")
The truth is, the pilot needed to fly the plane & seek to land it as it ran out of fuel.
He instructed the co-pilot to declare an emergency. But the co-pilot, despite reassuring the pilot he declared an emergency, never actually did so.
After the pilot commanded the co-pilot to declare they no longer have fuel, the co-pilot instead announces their position to air traffic control and almost as an afterthought adds: "...and, ah, we're running out of fuel, sir."
Later, when the air traffic control tower asks if their given heading is okay for Avianca's fuel supply, the co-pilot merely replies, "I guess so. Thank you very much."
When air traffic control asks them about their altitude, the co-pilot replies, "Ah, negative sir. We just running out of fuel. We okay three thousand. Now okay."
But they're NOT okay. Not at all.
The pilot keeps asking the co-pilot if the co-pilot declared an emergency and if he told them that the Avianca is running out of fuel.
The co-pilot keeps reassuring the pilot he has done so, but never actually does!
Even after they literally run out of fuel & lose 2 engines, the co-pilot radios in: "...we just, ah, lost two engines and, ah, we need priority, please."
Until the fatal end, the co-pilot never manages to act on the pilot's explicit instructions.
He never manages to work with the pilot's needs. The pilot needed to fly a plane running out of fuel.
Yes, the pilot could have & should have declared an emergency when the co-pilot did not. But the pilot delegated that task to co-pilot so the pilot could work the plane.
We see the pilot was so involved with his own tasks that he needed to ask the co-pilot several times if he carried out the pilot's command—even though the pilot was sitting right next to the co-pilot and technically, could hear everything he said.
That is an example of failure of the flight crew, but also of the co-pilot to adjust his role to the situation.
One of the most disturbing pilot-behavior-caused crashes occurred with an Iranian airline.
I cannot find the exact details now, but from what I remember, it occurred between a much older pilot with many thousands of hours under his belt and his younger less-experienced (albeit competent) co-pilot.
For some reason, the pilot behaved belligerently with the co-pilot, berating him & putting him down for no apparent reason.
In fact, he berated & verbally abused the co-pilot for a full hour.
The co-pilot seems to sink into a depressed silence.
When the pilot arrogantly decided to control the plane using his own visuals rather than the instruments & instructions of air traffic control, the co-pilot seemed to lack the heart to stand up to him.
While it's impossible to know exactly what the co-pilot was thinking & feeling at that point, the transcript paints the picture of a deflated person verbally beaten into submission.
He feels like a big zero & no longer cares about anything.
As the pilot continued to make bad decision after bad decision, the co-pilot remained silent—all the way until the plane rammed straight into a mountainside, killing everyone on board.
And it's hard to see how the co-pilot could have done what he should have without the pilot completely losing it. I can't see how the pilot would've allowed the co-pilot to take control of the plane or even allow the co-pilot to verbally side with traffic control and recommend flying into the airport via the normal way, relying on the instruments.
Had the co-pilot actively tried to save the plane by physically taking over, one could imagine the pilot responding with physical violence, based on the pilot's extremely aggressive & belligerent behavior throughout the flight.
All the above demonstrates different dysfunctional pilot/co-pilot dynamics (sometimes more on the part of the pilot, sometimes more on the part of the co-pilot, or equal).
It all fits in well with the fluid duties within the roles of husband & wife.
So we see that even if the pilot is technically the head of flight crew, the co-pilot's role is equally important with regard to the success of the flight.
We see that whether the pilot allows the co-pilot to perform his role as needed—or whether the co-pilot is able to perform his role as needed—either way, both the pilot & the co-pilot share responsibility for the success of the flight & preventing disaster.
Sometimes the co-pilot needs to adjust his role, whether that means being more assertive with the pilot or going beyond his role at the pilot's request & need.
And sometimes the co-pilot robotically goes through the motions, helpless & hopeless as the pilot destroys everything with his arrogance & abuse.
Miracle on the Hudson: The Pilot & Co-Pilot Work Together in Ideal Synchronicity
Technically the co-pilot possessed more total flight hours (20,727) than the pilot (19,663 hours).
But the pilot was the captain and therefore the guy in charge.
(In addition, the captain possessed more hours flying that specific type of plane—the Airbus 320: 4765 hours versus the co-pilot's 37 hours in an Airbus 320.)
When they realized a bird-strike took out all the engines, the pilot immediately said, "My aircraft."
Acknowledging the pilot's assertion, the co-pilot echoed, "Your aircraft."
And the co-pilot worked with him.
With the pilot at the flight controls & in command, both the co-pilot & the pilot worked together in ideal synchronicity.
Though credit for the skilled landing goes to the pilot, the pilot needed the co-pilot to manage everything else to enable the pilot to concentrate on gliding & landing the plane in an extremely dangerous situation.
It's doubtful whether the pilot could have accomplished what he did without the skilled assistance of the co-pilot.
Yes, they experienced tremendous siyata d'Shmaya with a clear path in fair weather on smooth waters.
The captain silently asked God for help.
But they also needed to work together according to rank.
If both men had decided to pilot the plane equally, the situation would not have worked out.
One man needed to take command to ensure the best outcome: the pilot.
The Co-Pilot Kept Things Running as Well as Possible in an Emergency
The co-pilot handled the takeoff, then handed control over to the pilot.
Around 15 minutes later, the incorrectly installed window on the pilot's side popped out, the resulting decompression sucking out the pilot & disengaging the autopilot as his knees caught against the flight controls.
Baruch Hashem, a male flight attendant was entering just then and managed to catch the pilot before he flew out completely.
The decompression also sucked in the cockpit door, blocking the throttle control (which made the plane zoom downward) and sucking in debris & papers from the passenger section.
The co-pilot managed to take control of the plane while 2 other male flight attendants rushed in to help hold on to the hapless pilot.
The co-pilot conducted all the right strategies to save the plane & its passengers, including communicating with the air control tower about an emergency landing when he could not hear well due to the rushing wind in the cockpit.
The co-pilot also inadvertently saved the pilot's life when he commanded the flight attendants not to release the pilot.
Frostbite & exhaustion struck the first flight attendant pretty quickly, and the next two thought to release the pilot because, with the pilot's head continuously banging against the plane, they felt sure he was dead (and also, the pilot's ankles interfered with the flight controls, endangering everyone's lives).
However, the co-pilot feared the release might cause the pilot to hit the wing, engine, or stabilizer, endangering the aircraft & passengers, so the co-pilot insisted they hold on.
While holding on, the flight attendants managed to disengage the pilot's ankles from the flight controls & the co-pilot managed to land the plane with no injuries.
The saga ends happily, with everyone alive and without irreversible injuries.
The first flight attendant recovered from his frostbite, dislocated shoulder, and injured eye. The pilot, miraculously alive after all, also recovered from his frostbite & other injuries (fractures, bruising, shock, etc).
This shows excellent management & skill on the part of the co-pilot.
Clearly, the role of co-pilot is neither superfluous nor menial.
Though of lower rank, the co-pilot's role can be heroic & even the starring role.
It all depends on the situation.