Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Flying with passengers — what to bring?

They say that most GA aircraft fly with just one person—the pilot—on board. That has been my personal experience so far. With just yourself to worry about, what to bring is an easy question. Most pilots just grab their flight bag and headset, and go. During the winter, or if you are flying at night, or if you are flying over remote country, you might bring some survival gear along "just in case."

So, what should you bring if you are flying with passengers, who may not be pilots themselves? That's something I've thought about a little when flying Angel Flight missions. First the obvious. If you are bringing safety or survival gear—and in many parts of the country (of flying over water) you probably should—you obviously need to adjust the quantity of the equipment (especially water) for the number of people in the plane.  What else?  Well here's what I've come up with:
  • Headsets for all passengers.
  • Earplugs for all passengers.  Some passengers just want to go to sleep, or read a book, or whatever, and prefer earplugs to bulky headsets. Disposable foam earplugs can be found in bulk at home improvement stores and drug stores.  I carry a bunch just to be sure.
  • Appropriate hearing protection for infants/toddlers/kids if you are carrying them. Infants and finicky toddlers are tough. But as PIC, we should explain to the parents why this is important. You can find kid sized sound attenuating earmuffs (for ~$35 or so) if they don't like wearing a big adult headset. Cutting foam earplugs down to size using an exacto knife for infants and toddlers seems to work as well.
  • Water. Many of my passengers are surprised at how dry it is up high, and how thirsty they get. I provide each passenger with a bottle of water, with more behind there seats. I carry a canteen of water for myself as well. (This is in addition to any water that might be part of a survival kit.)
  • A light weight fleece blanket. Even if it is comfortable at ground level, it gets pretty chilly at altitude.  And the cabin heat is a full-blast-or-nothing-at-all sort of affair.  In our Cessnas, if the back seat is warm, the front seats are uncomfortably so.  To keep the back seat occupants toasty, without burning up the people in the front seat, I provide a warm fleece blanket for the people in the back in case they get too chilly.
  • Air sickness bags.  Enough said.
What do you provide your passengers?

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