The Young Airline Pilot Who Juggles With Fire

Graeme Peto, Open Jaw

Pilots are no strangers to multi-tasking.  When flying a commercial aircraft, there are many important variables and one small mistake can lead to disaster -- something that not many outside the industry can handle. With that in mind, it's perhaps not that surprising that Loganair's youngest first officer juggles clubs, knives, and flames in his spare time.

Scotland's Robbie Cockburn has a pretty cool second job -- as a street magician and entertainer. Cockburn, who is only 22, can often be seen at street festivals atop his 7ft unicycle, juggling dangerous objects. He can even squeeze himself through a squash racquet -- which is something that his fellow pilots should never aspire to do.

Cockburn hails from the quiet town of Kirkliston in West Lothian and originally started busking to try to make some extra cash to pay for flying lessons. After meeting an established magician, he began apprenticing. If the Harry Potter universe contained a Hogwarts Airline, this guy would probably be the one flying it. 

"I didn't expect to fall into performing as a career," says Cockburn. "It was just pocket money to save for flying. I never thought I would get to perform professionally throughout the world." 

Loganair is supportive of Cockburn’s passion and the pilot finds time for his busking career by taking unpaid leave.

When he was just 20, Cockburn landed a full-time flying job at Scotland's Loganair. At the time, he was the company's youngest pilot, and today he still is. He intends to continue performing and flying, combining his two passions as best he can. 

"I would love to do something with work, like making a plane disappear by magic," Robbie said. 

From the sound of it, that would either be the best or worst -- commercial flight to be on. 

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