By Adam MacDougall, News.com.au

In 2010, pilot Richard de Crespigny was hailed a hero after an emergency situation on a plane which could have been catastrophic. Apart from his years of training, he says diet plays a critical role in how alert he is when flying a passenger plane.

Qantas captain Richard de Crespigny knows a thing or two about thinking fast in an emergency.

Back in 2010, he was hailed a hero after an Airbus A380 he was flying suffered a catastrophic failure, with an engine exploding moments after taking off from Singapore.

But rather than panic, the experienced pilot reassured his passengers, quickly dumping excess fuel before performing a safe emergency landing, calmly averting what could have been a devastating accident.

Captain Richard de Crespigny is a Qantas pilot. Source: Supplied

How did Captain de Crespigny perform so well under pressure? Years of training, of course.

But Captain de Crespigny also says his diet plays a critical role in how alert he is when behind the controls of a passenger aeroplane.

“I’m a pilot, and I need to turn up to work at different hours of the day, and so I need to have that energy peaking so my brain is efficient, and I’m not feeling sluggish,” he says.

“I have to time my diet. I need to take carbohydrates before I go flying, and we have snacks on the plane so our carbs are up and we can be alert. Carbohydrates are the quick energy that the cells can process quickly. They’re quick and they’re efficient.”

Pilot Richard de Crespigny enjoys healthy eating. Picture: Dylan Robinson Source:News Corp Australia

“However I am very careful to avoid sugar as it isn’t optimal for your brain and sustained energy levels. So I get my carbohydrates from foods like muesli, wholegrain bread, fruit and vegetables.

“I really believe to perform well that a good breakfast is the most important meal of the day, then lunch, and when I am not flying I don’t eat too much food at dinner especially carbs as I don’t want energy late at night and be unable to sleep.


The most common question Captain de Crespigny gets asked is how to avoid the dreaded jet lag.

“Everyone asks pilots how we handle the timezone changes. The short answer is that yes it’s tough but after years of flying I have learned a few tricks to help me cope better with it,” he says.

“The major tip is to try and get your body clock in sync with the sunlight of your new destination as quickly as possible. So if it is morning when you arrive get out in the sun. It’s all about timing.

Pilot Richard de Crespigny enjoys running. Picture: Dylan Robinson Source: News Corp Australia

“So if you’re spending a day in the aircraft to get to the other side of the planet, time your meal, your movies, your work and your sleep to match your new timezone. The moment you take off, synch those four things with the destination you’re heading to and you will be much better off when you arrive.

“I also suggest to help you sleep on the plane get rid of mobile devices, as the blue light from them keeps you awake or turn them down to a reddish light. Also don’t have too much alcohol, and use the night shades and earplugs to block out the cabin lights and noise so when you wake up, you’ll feel turbocharged.

“Then once you land move. I personally love to drop my bags off to the hotel then put on my running shoes and go for a nice long run.

“It’s such a great way to see the sights of your new destination and it really recharges your body. I also find that it is great for my mind and I will take a notepad with me on my runs as I find that I have some of my best ideas while I’m out running.”


Favourite healthy food?

Breakfast is an important meal for pilot Richard de Crespigny. Picture: Dylan Robinson Source: News Corp Australia

I do like fish with lots of salad. You can get very creative with salads using different nuts and oils. Nutrition doesn’t have to be bad news and boring.

Motivation tip for exercise?

Remember that exercise keeps your mind young.

What’s your favourite tip for passengers on a flight?

Move, yes get up and walk around on a flight. It is vital.

What’s your best tip for being resilient in the face of a crisis?

There can be growth from crisis. When you do face a crisis, learn from it, adjust and come out even better.

How do you relax?

I like to read.


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Adam MacDougall is the creator of The Man Shake. A new, healthy, weight loss shake that is low in sugar, full of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals that you can have on the run and leaves you feeling full.

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