Years ago, a chief pilot I was fond of told me during a flight that he was leaving for another company. I congratulated him (we were both working for the kind of company that even being fired from was probably grounds for congratulations) and then I reflected silently for a while, knowing I would miss him. I asked him who would be chief pilot after he left, because there wasn't a great depth of talent. He named the individual and I asked, a little puzzled, "Does he want to be chief pilot?" My soon-to-be ex-chief pilot laughed and said, "He's not as smart as you, Aviatrix." I'd always thought I was regarded as a bumbling idiot at that company, so that was a bit of a surprise.
Being chief pilot is a lot of work, and also responsibility. It probably sounds strange that a bit of legally weighted paperwork would deter someone charged with the responsibility of being the final word on whether an aircraft and prevailing conditions are safe for flight, and of operating that airplane, including making all inflight decisions down to a safe landing. If a pilot does not live up to the responsibility given to her as pilot-in-command she might not live, potentially killing herself or others. If she fails to fulfill the responsibilities of the position of chief pilot she could be fined, possibly even imprisoned. Not killed or maimed. But somehow that's a more daunting responsibility.
I want to fly airplanes, not ride herd on pilots to see if they've done their recurrent exams. I've turned down a job interview on the Groucho Marxist premise that I didn't want to work for a company that would hire me as chief pilot. You could say I've spent my career avoiding that duty. So you know what's about to happen.
I currently contract my services as a pilot. For all intents and purposes I'm an employee, but I hide behind the premise that I'm "just a contractor." Like the guy who thinks he isn't in as deep because they're only living together, not married. And then she gets pregnant. Or in my case the person holding the office of chief pilot gets out of currency and the operations manager designates me as "acting chief pilot." I look around for where to hide, but I'm the only other person in the operation qualified to hold the position of chief pilot, so there's no one I can tag. I want to fly airplanes, and the company isn't allowed to have airplanes flying without a chief pilot. I've been outmaneuvred. The "acting" part of the title goes away and now I'm it.
Sigh. If I mess up and go to jail, someone will bail me out. Or do something to get me free, right?