A few local friends have asked that I take them with me in the airplane after I receive my license. In the event that I take you flying with me, I’m going to ask you to read the following.
(Last updated 9/21/2006)
Before We Go
Light General Aviation (GA) aircraft are very different from commercial airliners. The noise level is much higher, so you will be wearing an aviation headset or earplugs during the trip, and the motion due to turbulence may be more noticeable. There are no on-board toilets. Please make sure you are comfortable before we take off.
Please don’t stray from the pilot while you are on the restricted areas of the airfield. Keep away from other aircraft, even if they are not moving, especially their propellers. If you hear anyone shout “Clear!” or “Clear prop!” it means an aircraft is about to start: be sure you are nowhere near it. A propeller turning at speed is almost invisible, and in any conflict it will win. It can also throw dirt in your face if you stand too close behind an aircraft. Take care when boarding the aircraft only to step where the pilot shows you - and use the handholds, especially if you have just walked across a muddy field.
No smoking. No alcohol on board. Intoxicated passengers will not be allowed to fly.
The pilot will show you how to open and close the door, adjust the seats and use the seat-belt. Keep the belt fastened whenever the aircraft is moving, and make sure it’s tight during takeoff and landing. If you are sitting in front, check that your seat is far enough back to allow full movement of the controls. If you have any luggage, please stow it securely in the back. Please don’t put anything on the floor, where it might interfere with the controls.
Once the power is switched on, you can talk to the pilot via your headset. Adjust the microphone so it’s just in front of your top lip, and speak at a normal level. From time to time the pilot will need to use the radio to communicate with other stations - please do not talk when he does, or your voice will be transmitted too. Make a note of the aircraft’s callsign, which is on a plate on the dashboard. If you hear anyone on the radio using it, stop talking so the pilot can hear them.
In the Air The pilot is in sole charge of the aircraft at all times: please do anything he asks you at once. Don’t touch any of the controls, including the pedals in front of you, unless he asks you to. You can adjust the air vents if you wish. Please make sure your seat is securely locked. If it starts to slip back when the aircraft climbs, just let it go - it will only slide a few inches. Whatever you do, don’t grab anything in front of you!
When the aircraft is climbing or descending, you may need to hold you nose and blow gently to equalise the pressure in your ears. Unlike a car, when an aircraft turns it leans over, and you may find this sensation unusual at first. Turbulence may cause the aircraft to bump around a little. This is quite normal so please just relax and enjoy the flight.
If you have questions about anything, please feel free to ask. If you feel uneasy about anything, or too hot or cold, or unwell, please tell the pilot sooner rather than later. But remember that the pilot’s first priority at all times is to fly the aircraft safely, so he may not be able to give you his full attention immediately. Landing Before and during landing, there may be events that you were not expecting: a surprising number of changes of direction and engine speed, and sometimes you may feel you are leaning over, or notice that the runway is not where you expected to see it. Sometimes, just as you are expecting to touch down, the pilot will “go around” for another approach. And in the final stages of landing, you may hear a buzzer sounding. All these things are quite normal and nothing to worry about. However, it is the period when the pilot’s workload is highest, so please don’t distract him.
The flight is not over until the aircraft is parked and the engine stopped. Don’t unfasten your seatbelt or open the door until then.
In Case of Emergency
If anything unexpected happens, remember that the pilot has been trained and tested in dealing with emergencies, so please remain calm and do whatever the pilot tells you to do.
Our flight plan today includes allowances for diverting to a different airfield in the event of unexpected bad weather.
In the unlikely event of engine failure, the aircraft glides gently down, and can be safely landed in a small field. In case of an of field landing, the pilot will provide you with instructions for a safe landing. You may be asked to open your door ajar in the event of an off-airport landing. Most importantly, make sure that your seat belt is securely fastened and that you comply with the pilot’s instructions.
Common Questions… Am I fit to fly? If in doubt, ask the pilot. It’s not a good idea to fly if you have a bad cold or sinus problems, as the changes in air pressure can be painful if you can’t “pop” your ears. Scuba and flying do not mix - separate them by 24 hours.
What should I wear? Wear clothes that are comfortable, but not too bulky. Skirts and high heels are not advisable. Dress as you would for a long journey in a small car. Sunglasses or a peaked cap are a good idea, as it may sometimes be necessary to fly with the sun in your eyes.
”‘Can I eat on board the aircraft? “’ Yes, however, please be considerate of the types of food you bring on board. Please avoid bringing food likely to cause a mess. Also, avoid consuming large amounts of fluids as there are no restrooms on board the aircraft. Ginger (ginger cookies, etc.) has been shown to ease motion sickness.
Can I take photographs? Yes, but don’t expect too much from the results, and please don’t bring a lot of equipment. Aircraft windows are rarely of optical standard, and there will be a good deal of vibration from the engine. The pilot will try to help you to get a good view, but remember that his first priority is always to fly the aircraft safely. This may mean not going as close as you would like to places of interest, or approaching them from the ideal direction. How can I help? The most useful thing you can do to help is to keep a good lookout, and tell the pilot if you see other aircraft. Use the “clock code” - 9 o’clock is to your left, 12 straight ahead, 3 to your right.
About the pilot:Jason Fesler is a private pilot. I do not fly commercially; I am not a charter service; I do not care about schedules. You are welcome to look at my log book at http://firstname.lastname@example.org . You are allowed to pay a portion of the flight costs; I am legally required to accept only up to your share of the costs.
Is there risk with flying? Like everything else, life is a risk. You should consider the risks, and decline to fly if you are uncomfortable. The NTSB maintains statistics about general aviation; the DOT maintains information about driving. I am trained in emergencies, and most emergencies are non-events. But, stuff happens.
Schedules: I do not care about schedules. If the weather is bad, we don’t fly. We will not compromise safety for the sake of being somewhere at a specific time. Most airports have car rental options if it is required. With general aviation, you fly when you’re NOT in a hurry.