Air-tiquette for guests aboard a private flight in a small plane
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Diary of an aircraft owner
By Paul Jansen
Continued from Page 1
“Paul’s Pax Protocol”
8. Know your body. There are no toilets on small planes. If you get stomach aches easily or find it difficult to hold liquids, do not eat food which will upset your stomach or drink too much.
Before departing on a long leg from Surat Thani to Pattaya, one of the passengers on board 9M-PRJ cooled himself by downing juice from a big coconut and heaps of tea at lunch. As we droned on over the Gulf of Thailand, he started squirming in the back. Finally, he announced that he could not hold his pee any longer and needed immediate relief.
Fortunately, 1) there was no woman on board, and, 2) there was a big plastic bottle at hand. My new leather seats (and his modesty) were saved.
9. Follow instructions. A Pilot has gone through intensive training to be Captain of the flying machine you are about to board. Even if you have mastered Microsoft Flight Simulator, pay attention to his pre-flight briefing and in-flight directions. A plane is a sturdy machine but some of its parts (like the Flaps which bear large “Do Not Step” signs) need to be approached with care.
The same attitude should be exhibited in the air. I once allowed a heavy-set passenger in the co-pilot’s seat to “lightly follow me-through” by placing his hands gently on the control column as I flew. He either did not hear me use the word “lightly” or did not understand what I meant. I had to keep repeating to him to release the controls as his muscular hands pushed the plane down when I was trying to ascend. I have since decided to offer this experience only to those without gym memberships.
10. Reward your Pilot/Owner. A joy ride may seem like a simple thing to you. Just drive to the airport, jump in the plane, buzz around a bit and then land and return home. It is not.
The Pilot/Owner has to check the weather; whether any special restrictions have been imposed on the route he plans on taking or the destination; file a flight plan; check and refuel the plane; and move it to a position convenient for your departure. These on top of ensuring the paperwork for himself (his licence and medical are current) and his plane (is the Certificate of Airworthiness, Radio licence, insurance, etc, up to date) are all in order. And then when you land, he has to push the plane to its lot, tie it down and cover it up.
He cannot charge you for the flight and can only ask you to share the cost, which if done, has to be divided equally among all on board including the Pilot/Owner. If he is like me, he will not do the latter either. If you have enjoyed the flight experience, an offer to pay for the ground transportation and accommodation if you stay overnight somewhere, or the meals, will be appreciated, even if not accepted. And that is my last tip.
Follow this Air-tiquette and you are quite likely to get a reputation as The Ideal Pax and a stream of new invites.
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