Ever since Icarus, humans have been obsessed with flight. Pilots get to experience it every day (and get paid for it!), but with that experience comes great risk. In 2009, 63 aircraft pilots and flight engineers were fatally injured, a rate of 57.1 per 100,000 workers [source: Bureau of Labor Statistics].
Pilots who dust crops can come into contact with toxins (and may have to take off and land in odd areas, too), while helicopter plots involved in rescue work have to fly at much lower altitudes than might be considered safe.
In addition to irregular sleep patterns and possible hearing loss, there is always on the mind of a commercial pilot the knowledge that he or she is responsible for the lives of a whole plane full of people. That kind of stress is exhausting, especially when faced with night flights, bad weather and instruments and parts that can, and occasionally do, fail.
In Alaska, where people are more dependent on air travel than in other states, aircraft crashes are No. 2 on the list of occupational deaths [source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report]. Contributing to the deaths were bad weather (poor visibility, wind and turbulence), landing or taking off from sites not approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), getting too close to terrain or water and engine or component failure.