Sunday, November 23, 2008

First passenger!

Plane: Cessna 150
Route: 40I-MGY-40I
Weather: Clear, 44 degrees, wind 210 degrees at 8 knots

I didn't waste any time in taking my first passenger up in the sky. My girlfriend, Gina, has been reminding me that she had to be the first person I flew and I was happy to oblige this afternoon. We could not have asked for a better day, with it being slightly warmer than the past few days with a clear blue sky. She took a bunch of photos, many of which I have included below.

Gina and me up in the 150

She was quite excited and I was probably overly cautious in reminding her a few times to let me know if she felt at all queasy or otherwise uncomfortable during the flight. It wasn't her first time in a small plane (as we took a ride early this summer) but I wanted to make sure she enjoyed it and felt great. Once we got buckled up and I explained a few more things I would be doing, I started 60338 and ran through my pre-takeoff checks. Then I asked if she was ready to go and heard an excited "yes" over the intercom. So I pushed in the throttle and made a smooth crosswind takeoff and climbed into the pattern over Stewart.

Checking the fuel during the preflight

I flew us out over Caesar Creek Lake and showed her some of the sites I've become quite familiar with from the air during my training. Then I flew us North and pointed out some other places she recognized. She had been hoping to see her apartment from above so I flew there next and circled above for her to take a photo.

Gina's apartment from 1,500 feet above (the U in the middle)

The air was very smooth, to the point I trimmed and we held steady at 2,500 for a good 15 minutes without having to touch the elevator. Gina was still totally comfortable and said she wanted to do something fun, so I asked if she wanted to do a steep turn. I wouldn't do this with any other passenger on their first flight but knowing her I expected she would do just fine. So I climbed up to 3,000 and made one turn to the left. She said that was enough for now, but she felt alright. (Pilot geekiness: it was a great steep turn, I maintained speed and altitude spot on). I think she did what I did as an early student and looked more out the sides than the front, which can be a little disorienting. Anyway, she said it was fun and wants to do more in the future. It's great to know there's a non-pilot I can fly with and still practice my maneuvers to stay proficient!

Doing the pilot thing - note my GPS logger velcroed to the handle
Maneuvering complete, I descended and flew us over to Wright Brothers and made a normal landing. Not my greatest, as a gust caught me at the last second so the plane cocked left and the left wheel came down a little hard. But she didn't mind and I taxied back to depart. I asked if she wanted me to do a different sort of takeoff and my description of a short field (must be something about holding the brakes) made her ask for one of those. I was happy to oblige and made nice smooth liftoff as soon as the plane was ready to fly and sped up in ground effect until about halfway down the runway.

She had asked if she would be able to fly so I figured it would be a good time on our way back to Stewart. I flew up to 2,500 feet and let her take the controls to make some gentle turns. At first I told her to just use the ailerons and I worked the rudder. She didn't always finish off level and climbed or descended slightly at times but it was fun and I kept my eyes scanning for traffic while constantly cross-checking the airspeed indicator and altimeter. Then I had her try and make a few coordinated turns after I demonstrated adverse yaw and what happens when you use ailerons without the rudder. It took her a few tries but she got the hang of it and actually made some really smooth turns!

She made some turns with quite the death grip

Turning base on approach to Stewart
Our fun for my first passenger-toting flight complete, I took the controls and descended to enter the pattern at Stewart. I brought it in for a nice smooth landing on the grass. Gina was thoroughly amused that I just pushed down on the tail to turn the plane around and back it into the tiedown. Walking into the office, she was still smiling when everyone asked how it went.

Putting 60338 back in her tiedown

It's still kind of hard to believe I'm allowed to do what we did today. I can take anyone over to the airport, hop in a plane, and fly wherever we want to. Pure craziness and awesome freedom. Maybe you'll have (or have had) a similar feeling when you pass your checkride. I'm really glad things went so well and hopefully I can keep improving my skills and explanations so future passengers are even more comfortable up there with me.

Next weekend I'm going to get checked out in the 172 with Dave. It will be nice to have that as an option for longer cross-country flights, since it's faster and has a GPS. Then the following weekend I have 60338 reserved for a short flight down to Cincinnati Blue Ash where there's a seminar through the FAA Wings program. Gotta start making use of my certificate!

Thanks again to everyone for all the kind words and comments on me passing my checkride, too!

Today's Flight: 1.2 hours
Total Time: 75.3 hours


  1. it was GREAT fun!!! i can't wait to do more exciting things and maybe even acrobatics :-)

  2. Acrobatics!?! Whoa. I need her to talk to my wife.

  3. Ha, you're tellin me... all I've even done so far is barrel rolls!

    (In a Pitts, not the 150 - yikes)

  4. Great job, Steve! I'll be in line for a flight next time I'm in Ohio!

  5. Hmm, you might want to check into the legality of allowing a non-student pilot to operate the controls of an airplane with you not being a qualified instructor and all.

  6. ^ I appreciate the concern, but in all the research I have done there's absolutely nothing illegal about it. I was PIC and therefore responsible for the safety of the flight. While I'm not a CFI and am admittedly very inexperienced, I made sure we were at sufficient altitude and was constantly checking everything before letting her take control. And all I allowed was a few turns. The instant anything would have strayed from completely comfortable I would have taken the controls back.

    I think one of the best ways to get other people excited about aviation is to show them there's nothing inherently hard about flying... you just have to learn, like with anything else!

    And no, that's never an excuse to allow someone to do something stupid. Which did not happen here, nor do I ever intend to let happen.

    Happy Thanksgiving! :)