For many people, taking their first flight in a light aircraft can be a nerve-wracking experience. In many cases, this apprehension is not the result of a flying phobia as much as it is a fear of the unknown. Luckily, as the pilot, you have the ability to alleviate your passengers’ fears by simply taking time to explain your actions and answer their questions.
As the upcoming flying season draws nearer, now is the perfect time for a refresher on flying with novice or nervous passengers. Follow these tips to ensure your passengers have a comfortable flight and come back for more!
Show passengers the flight plan and route
Show your passengers how you check the weather, select the route, and file the flight plan. Explaining the plan will help your passengers understand the time and care you put into preparing for each flight.
Narrate the preflight inspection
Next, it’s a good idea to take your passengers out to do the pre-flight inspection with you. Describe what you’re doing at each step and give them a chance to ask questions along the way. It can also help to explain the general concepts of flight and point out some of the mechanical components on the aircraft. Chances are that your passengers will feel more confident about the flight after they learn more about the aircraft and understand the pre-flight safety procedures.
Explain what to expect in flight
Once you’re in the cockpit, continue giving your passengers a running commentary of what to expect during the flight to eliminate their fear of the unknown. For example, give a heads-up before making certain maneuvers such as banking right and warn passengers that they may feel the effects of turbulence. Remember, most people are unaccustomed to the sensations and sounds of small aircraft. Therefore, the more you describe what’s going to happen before it occurs, the more comfortable and calm your passengers may be throughout the flight.
Review the flight once you’ve landed
After landing, it’s often helpful to review the flight with your passengers. For example, was there a point in the flight where your passengers seemed particularly uncomfortable? Take some time to explain what was happening at each stage of the flight and ask them if they have any questions. By establishing an open line of communication with your passengers, you can comfort their fears and help them gain a new appreciation for flight!
Have you ever flown with nervous passengers? What tips would you add to the list?