What do you expect from your passengers?
So as to avoid hijacking another thread I am moving this post. I have a series of questions to start the dialogue of what is expected from the people who fly with us.
At what point do you as PIC want your passengers (not pilot rated) to provide flight related information? Do you have them call traffic? Do you have them inform you if they can see something wrong with the airplane? Are they ever allowed to touch or take the controls? Do you pre-brief them on their duties in flight? Are they expected to be self loading luggage and you as PIC will handle ALL flight related issues/events?
First of I fly a 1960 Champ 7EC. I pre-brief each flight and discuss with the passengers what our flight plan is. I brief the rout of flight, which may be as simple as “We are heading down the Kenai towards Lake XYZ and will fly around the area looking for moose, to specific rout of flight including leg time, fuel burn, frequency plan, divert airfields, and emergency airfields enroot - including which ones do or do not have emergency services. This all depends on what type of flight I am on. I discuss emergency procedures including engine failures and what I am going to do in three different phases of flight, takeoff, enroot, and landing. I talk about bird strikes and the procedures for calling birds & airplanes (high/level/low factor/no factor). I also inform them that there are two commands that are absolutely mandatory for the pilot to comply with - “Wave off” and “Hold” – on the ground. I brief the emergency equipment where it is, how to get to it and how to use it. My closing line is “If you see, hear, smell, taste (carry over from military flying) anything that you don’t know or you think might be flight related let me know and we will talk about it and determine what to do – its your life too”. I then expect that the passenger to execute these duties in flight.
What do you do and when is passenger input too much?
I pretty much do the same. Almost everybody who gets into a plane with me is paying for the time. So if they just wnat to go take photos of their property or the end of the spit, I do not go into great detail. Many of them do not what to hear anything besides the regular saftey items and our plan of action. You can scare away some customers by talking about bird strikes over a bay FULL of Eagles and Seagulls....
Intro flight folks get the whole deal..... Since it is their first and maybe only lesson. Preflight, control use, water taxi, take-offs ,,,, the whole ball of wax...
Longer range photo runs over in the mountains and glaciers get a longer talk about spotting other planes, and critters. Plus my business revolves around customer satisfaction,,, so I have them on the look-out for what THEY want to see and that really keeps them motivated to watch for Eagels, bears, Whales and some guy in a Beaver or 206 who might be doing the same thing.
Regular Float rating customers are already pilots for the most part. So after they read my book and we go through all the pre-flight and water work lessons, they are pretty alert.
I make a point of telling all of them to let me know if something makes them feel uncomfortable. I also tell them it is important for them to help out in certain crew duties. This may not really be true in all cases, but an extra pair of eyes scanning is a good thing.
Plus having (or allowing a passenger help you with reading the check-list (or another easy task) can be a big deal in how much confidence they have in your flying abilities.
Hunting buddies are the worst. They usually only care about how much junk they can take and how fast you can get them there....
They are the ones who will try to talk you into something stupid or who will try to sneak a full 5 gallon jug of drinking water into the baggage while you are distracted.
They are the ones that have to be told to shut up and not touch anything...
There is nothing like coming back from a quick trip to the store only to find that your hunting buddies have tied their giant back-packs to your float struts. Because they had already filled up the plane with all sorts of other junk during your 5 minute absence...
Drew, I do pretty much everything you mentioned. The old school "sit down and shut up" routine doesnt really work especially if you really need to know something. I had a kid jerk back the throttle on a cub years back as we were cruising a beach and when I retained my composure and asked him what gives he simply replied, "you never told me not to." I want passengers to feel useful. A lot can be gained from non-pilot passengers when they given a good briefing.