February 2009 Issue

Dangerous Passenger Tricks

(Or, How To Survive The Well-Meaning Knows-Too-Little Guest Without Breaking A Sweat.)

Get any two or more pilots together for a bit of hangar flying and you’ll hear a lot of interesting tales of aerial travails—some of them actually true, albeit with perhaps a touch of modest embellishment. One topic always standing out as a regular, reliable crowd-pleaser is the story of the errant passenger. Sometimes these are humorous anecdotes passed pilot-to-pilot, with the commensurate amount of growth in awe and severity; sometimes these are more-cautionary stories, told by the first-hand participants or observers with the appropriate degree of warning. Among my favorites—yes, there have been just a few in my flying days—are the ones of an honest innocence at work. But the moral of almost all of them is to be clear and complete in briefing passengers, novice and experienced alike. It’s required by the FARs (see the sidebar), and you just may avoid becoming a subject of a tale of an errant passenger trick gone bad.

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