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At the helm, the pilot sits between two oversized monitors, one at his left elbow, one at his right, both of which displayed radar images of what was ahead and around.

Ahead and just to the right was a third monitor, an Automatic Identification System, which alerts towboat pilots to traffic in either direction as well as that entering from any tributaries.

Reading the images and gauges and making the right decision without fail is something prospective pilots must learn on the job.

“We don’t have a school or a college to train a pilot,” Lewis said. “It’s just like when I got started. You steer when you get the chance, and you make a bridge when you have to.

“Fact of the matter is, we’re still doing it the same way that old steamboat pilot, Mark Twain, did it way back when,” he said.


Information from: Delta Democrat Times,