Sunday, September 16, 2007

Nervous Passenger

A few weeks ago I took a good buddy of mine and his girlfriend flying for the first time. During part of the year he works in the Alberta oil patch, and as such he flies back and forth. He's also done some flying in small helicopters many years ago as well, so a quick trip up with me in a 172 is no biggie for him. He told me that his girlfriend was a nervous flier, but that she had flown commercially before. He said she should be fine.

I met them both at the airport and they watched as I preflighted the aircraft. My friend asked me some questions about the aircraft and flying which I was happy to answer. A few minutes later with our run-up done we were off. My buddy sat up front with me and his girlfriend was in the back seat by herself.

During the climb out I glanced back to check on her and noticed that she had her eyes firmly closed and she was lying down across the empty seat. Since there was a low level of turbulence I told her she she should sit up and look at the horizon or she'd likely get motion sickness.

She did sit up but then a few minutes later I noticed that she was quietly crying. Of course I immediately offered to return to the airport but my buddy reassured her and she seemed to regain her composer again. For the rest of the flight I could hear her let out a scream every time we hit some chop. I reassured her numerous times that everything was fine and that the light chop was normal. She also didn't like any kind of turn at all so I did all of my turns with very light bank and some rudder. (No banking over and pointing anything out to them). I let my buddy take the controls for a few seconds but he quickly gave them back to me since his girlfriend had starting screaming continuously. Thankfully her mic wasn't picking any of it up.

We finally returned to the airport and her last scream was when I made a normal turn from base to final. Sorry, my bad. I taxied us back to the apron and shut down. We all hopped out and then she thanked me with a smile... which caught me completely by surprise.

My buddy said that he had a great time and that we should do it again sometime!

Were we on the same aircraft?


At 1:31 PM, Blogger Ex Gravel Cruncher said...

Try reassuring your passengers of your skill and the airworthiness of the plane by demonstrating spins next time. Muh ha ha ha!

At 5:30 PM, Blogger Rob said...

Actually up here we actually do spins during our pilot training... they really are a blast... once you realize your not going to die.

To increase the fun factor in a 172 one must leave the power on and point that nose way up there.


At 12:04 PM, Anonymous Seymore said...

I'm a nervous flyer at best. However, at the same time I would love to fly something like a Cessna. Are they safe ? Or will I end up like this guy (without the getting up part)?

At 5:41 PM, Blogger CatsDontFly said...

Hi Rob,
Nice Blog. I enjoyed reading your nervous passenger comments. Don't practice spins until you have formal spin training from an experienced CFII. Routine spins can go bad if quickly if you not careful. Don't assume that all C-172s have the same spin characteristics. NEVER do spins with someone in the back seat!

Gary Lux,CFII
Mountain Flying Instructor
Asheville, NC


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