Passengers come in all
sizes, shapes, and temperaments. It is not uncommon for a pilot to take
up a friend who is ordinarily calm and relaxed, only to find that he
becomes completely unnerved and panicky during some incidental flight
All of us operate at two
levels: the rational and the emotional. Our daily activities are
regulated by the rational forces - logic, knowledge, experience, and
goal-seeking. But under this exterior, strong emotions lie dormant -
fear, anger, and love, for example. Fear, or more accurately, anxiety,
is the emotion most often encountered in flying. Many passengers have
some vague, weakly formulated anxiety about "what might happen up
there." Then, if some minor mishap occurs, they experience a natural
"fight-or-flight" response (the instinctive reaction of a human being to
Obviously, though, they
have no suitable object at hand to fight, and flight (in the sense of
escape) is out of the question. So the anxious passenger tries to appear
calm while enduring inner torment and tension. His nervousness may be
apparent in chain-smoking, heavy perspiring, rambling conversation,
stony silence, or other peculiar behaviour. Strangely enough, his every
effort to conceal his fear and combat his growing tension just leads to
If you are carrying
several passengers, one of them can quickly infect the others with his
anxiety. And a group of panicky passengers can be a threat to safe
flight. Bear in mind that others may not be as confident in the air as
you, and take precautions to minimize their discomfort and worry. Keep
flight manoeuvres smooth and professional. Avoid sudden control
movements, uncertainty in selecting your course or destination, requests
for radio assistance, or any behaviour which might undermine your
passengers' faith in your skill and self-confidence.
All the medical problems
discussed previously in this handbook apply to passengers as well as to
pilots. The remedial steps suggested for you as the pilot should be the
same for your passengers, and should be taken before any difficulty
However, a few medical situations apply solely to passengers.
Before allowing a
pregnant woman to fly in your aircraft (especially if she has a history
of miscarriages), have her check with her physician. The decreased
pressure at altitude may be inadvisable. If a passenger has brought an
infant along, the baby should either be made to cry or be given a bottle
during descent to keep the Eustachian tubes open.
If a passenger shows
signs of airsickness during flight, encourage him to look out the window
at a fixed, definite object; the horizon, faraway clouds, or a distant
object on the ground is suitable. The commonly available motion sickness
medications are also useful for relieving the discomfort. Persons who
are bothered with nasal congestion associated with altitude may obtain
effective remedies from their physician or pharmacist.
If you are transporting
a sick person, keep in mind the effects of altitude on his particular
condition. Those with a history of cardiovascular or pulmonary problems
should be very closely observed. Bowel obstructions may become
aggravated by the expansion of trapped gas. Some types of hernia may
worsen for the same reason.
Your own confidence and
control of the aircraft, along with an awareness of your passengers'
needs, will help insure a relaxed and safe flight for everyone.
The fact that an
individual holds a pilot's license does not guarantee that he is a good
pilot. Nor does the fact that he has managed to survive a number of
years of flying. We all know pilots who have been living on borrowed
The good pilot is well
trained, familiar with his aircraft, physically and mentally fit, and of
sound judgment. Safe flight depends upon all four of these factors:
Adequate training is the most important single element of pilotage. An
unskilled pilot exposed to unfamiliar circumstances is a certain
candidate for trouble. Skill-building should never stop. Each flight is
a new training experience. Most accidents are a direct result of pilots
who overstep their skills in a particular flight situation.
Aircraft familiarization: Airplanes, like people, take some
getting used to. Each has its own idiosyncrasies and functional
differences. Any pilot, regardless of his training and experience, is
courting trouble if he fails to check out and familiarize himself with
the aircraft he is operating.
Physical and mental fitness: The good pilot must remain
slightly superior physically to his friends on the ground. His brain,
circulatory system, lungs, eyes, muscles, and nerves must be not only in
excellent condition, they must coordinate smoothly together. In
addition, the pilot must be temperamentally stable and in control of his
Judgment: The intangible factor, without which training,
familiarization, and personal fitness are of little avail, is judgment.
This is nothing more
than plain common sense. A pilot's judgment ultimately determines the
safety of his flight because all of his decisions rest upon it - flight
planning, preflight organization, alterations in course, fuel
management, ad infinitum.
Use this check list
as a guide to safe and pleasurable flying:
Give yourself a personal "preflight" before takeoff. Are you in
top physical and mental condition?
If you suspect you have a physical ailment, see your AME or
your personal physician.
If you have been under unusual physical or mental strain, don't
fly. Consult your AME or your personal physician.
Don't fly within 8 hours (minimum) after drinking alcoholic
beverages, or with a hangover.
Practice good physical and mental hygiene. Exercise, eat
properly, and try to minimize psychological stress.
If you are over 35, realize your limitations.
Be honest with yourself and your AME about the state of your
Many pilots have
survived years of flying without observing these precautions. But many
more have not. Visit your nearest FAA GADO sometime and ask to see their
accident statistics. If they seem dry and undramatic, remember that each
statistic involves the twisted wreckage of an aircraft and the body of
Now - it's up to you!