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I took a work colleague for a first time flight on Saturday. Nice day, with light to moderate westerly winds blowing. Seemed like a routine joy flight until we landed...

 

On landing I discovered that my passenger had decided to ignore a major safety rule and use her untethered large screened android smartphone throughout the flight to take pictures. This was despite the fact she had a properly tethered camera for the same task.

 

Before the flight it was carefully explained to her the expectations I had when it came to items to be carried during the flight. I made sure to clearly communicate the risks and consequences of a prop strike. This was done on two occasions prior to the day of the flight as well as during preflight checks so the passenger was under no misconceptions of what was expected in order to maintain in flight safety.

 

Yet, despite all the clear communications to the contrary, the passenger proceeded to flout these safety rules and take numerous images with her phone so she could upload them in near real time to Facebook. At no time during the flight did she make me aware of what she was doing and so the extreme dangers she was putting the two of us in was never known to me until it was all over. It has taken great self control on my part to stop myself from ripping her a new one. I made it quite clear without showing how upset I was with her that what she did was not acceptable and while she agreed, no apology was forthcoming. So the obvious question is: why did she do it given that she knew she was breaking a major safety rule in the process?

 

I've given this question quite some thought and the answer I've come up with is "personality". As an outgoing, outspoken type who also likes risk taking, she didn't see the risk she was taking as excessive. Not unlike many of the personality types we see in flying.

 

Now, up until now I have always taken it for granted that the passengers we take up for a spin are always going to do exactly as we say without question. Maybe this assumption is wrong and should never have been made. I now feel that whenever I go for a fly I need to pay extra attention to the potential risks my passenger may pose. Not just the usual risks that happened inadvertently but risks like the one just described. I think a personality profile needs to be established to estimate the passengers likelyhood of posing a safety hazard.

 

It might be necessary to ask them some specific questions about the kind of risk taking activities they have been previously involved in. Including how they feel about what they are about to do. In my case, the passenger was very relaxed about the flight probably more so that I was given that we faced periods of moderate turbulence.

 

Or maybe we need to make a blanket rule of not allowing passengers to carry anything on them that is not properly tethered.

 

Either way, this has been a big learning experience that has forever changed the way I see the non pilot passenger.

 

Bluey.

 

 

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Guest ozzie

Empty pockets and hand over all loose items. Place in bag and stow on aircraft.

 

I have seen so many of these types that come along to do a tandem skydive. You can usually pick them out of the crowd after a while. Bet she txts and drives at the same time sitting in the middle lane of the freeeway going 20 to 30 ks under the limit.

 

 

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This sort of behaviour is probably encouraged by the smartphone advertisement currently on TV showing someone using their untethered smartphone to take video and stills while skydiving, which I personally think is pretty ridiculous - just think of the wind buffeting, let alone the likelihood of loosing the phone.

 

Personally I won't even use or mount my iPhone in my trike due to the lack of any provision for a tether. When it goes flying with me its inside a zipped up pocket of a garment that's underneath my flight suit.

 

 

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I mount mine with high strength Velcro to the dash. It is also tethered to a car charger that cannot be removed without squeezing the connector in two places. I run ozrunways on it and it works as a great moving map display. The wind buffering in the trike is the equivalent of highway driving at 110km/h.

 

 

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. So the obvious question is: why did she do it given that she knew she was breaking a major safety rule in the process?.

The Darwin Awards are a tongue-in-cheek honor, created by Wendy Northcutt to recognize individuals who contribute to human evolution by self-selecting themselves out of the gene pool through putting themselves (unnecessarily) in life-threatening situations.

 

Clearly a candidate!

 

Regards Bill

 

 

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Guest graham campion
It's one thing to stupidly expose yourself to unnecessary risk, it's another to do it to someone else without their consent.Bluey

thankyou for mentioning this ,some times u do not know what the person is doing behind you!!

on the same note is it worth the risk taking passengers?

 

i was asked a month ago by a total stranger who pulled up at our airport asking me to take him up so he could photograph

 

the submarine from the air[holbrook]

 

at the time i was low on fuel and only had mt containers,i asked him if he would mind throwing a few bucks in for fuel $10-$20?

 

he called me a few fimilar names my wife uses quite often when i am late home from flying,

 

so i take you have enough to go hire a crane then ????

 

it points out not only in passengers but we attract all types to our sport!!!!!!!

 

 

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Guest davidh10

I usually ask if they want to take photos. That prompts them to disclose whether they have a camera, of any type. Then I ask if they have any loose items on them, explaining at the same time that something like a camera or phone, if untethered could be ripped from their hands by the slipstream and turn a joy flight into an in flight emergency. For that reason I explain that it must be tethered.

 

I also turn around every now and then while talking to them, just to check they are ok. In doing so I would become aware of the sort of non-compliance you describe.

 

As for that person, Bluey, put her on the banned passenger list.

 

 

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Guest pookemon

Taking photos with a phone when she had a camera gives you all the information you need. She is plainly stupid - period. It's probably worth doing the ol' "Empty your pockets before you fly" as was mentioned earlier.

 

Oh, and don't take her flying again. If she asks, and then asks why when you say no, then you can explain that you're not licensed to take people up that might kill you...

 

 

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Taking photos with a phone when she had a camera gives you all the information you need. She is plainly stupid - period. It's probably worth doing the ol' "Empty your pockets before you fly" as was mentioned earlier.Oh, and don't take her flying again. If she asks, and then asks why when you say no, then you can explain that you're not licensed to take people up that might kill you...

She's on my no fly list.

 

Bluey

 

 

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Guest nunans

Behavior is a product of personality and environment, the personality isn't something we can change so the only thing to do is create the safe environment which it sounds like you did your best to do with the pre-flight briefing, explanations etc. The view from a trike is awesome and the temptation to take pics is huge but yeah a camera with a neck strap or tied to the wrist would be the go.

 

Just out of interest would an item dropped from the seat of a trike always go through the prop or could it just fall vertically 'till it was below the main wheels?

 

I notice that when skydivers step out of a plane they don't often get blown into the tail of the aircraft even though the plane is going fast compared to a trike.

 

 

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I fly an SST winged trike with a tall windscreen. The windscreen greatly reduces wind around the pod in smooth air but cuts in abruptly about 8 inches either side of your shoulders. With significant turbulence from the 20 plus knot area winds flowing over the escarpment that day, the potential for wind gusts to encroach on the passenger space was high. We were cruising at around 60 kts for most of the flight with short bursts to around 80kt on a few occasions. The passenger had a very light build and couldn't even handle the controls for more than a few seconds on her own. The more I think about it, the luckier I think we were.

 

Bluey.

 

 

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On the whole, I feel that most individuals are generally good as this person is. What I'd like to believe is that her naivity or false sense of invincibility has led her to feel confident she could do it safely. It is this naive nature that we need to be wary of.

 

Bluey.

 

 

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Behavior is a product of personality and environment, the personality isn't something we can change so the only thing to do is create the safe environment which it sounds like you did your best to do with the pre-flight briefing, explanations etc. The view from a trike is awesome and the temptation to take pics is huge but yeah a camera with a neck strap or tied to the wrist would be the go.Just out of interest would an item dropped from the seat of a trike always go through the prop or could it just fall vertically 'till it was below the main wheels?

 

Unless it is a very heavy object it will be caught in the slip stream and go through the prop.

 

Bluey.

 

I notice that when skydivers step out of a plane they don't often get blown into the tail of the aircraft even though the plane is going fast compared to a trike.

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Guest davidh10
Just out of interest would an item dropped from the seat of a trike always go through the prop or could it just fall vertically 'till it was below the main wheels?

I notice that when skydivers step out of a plane they don't often get blown into the tail of the aircraft even though the plane is going fast compared to a trike.

It is a function of mass vs surface area facing into the slipstteam. If the object is heavy and has little surface area, then downward acceleration will be greater than rearwards acceleration. The result is likely to be that it is below the prop before having travelled back to the prop.

If, however you reverse the properties of the object. Ie. Light and significant surface area, then a prop strike is pretty certain.

 

I know someone who dropped a phone on exactly that situation and it missed the prop, but I wouldn't count on it.

 

 

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It is a function of mass vs surface area facing into the slipstteam. If the object is heavy and has little surface area, then downward acceleration will be greater than rearwards acceleration. The result is likely to be that it is below the prop before having travelled back to the prop.If, however you reverse the properties of the object. Ie. Light and significant surface area, then a prop strike is pretty certain.

 

I know someone who dropped a phone on exactly that situation and it missed the prop, but I wouldn't count on it.

That's interesting.

 

Bluey

 

 

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Guest davidh10

The circumstance was that the person was taking photos with a phone and wanted a clear view, not through the windscreen. As they moved their hand out into the slipstream, the force just ripped the phone out of their hand.

 

P.S. Wasn't my aircraft, but I was told about it first hand. They were amazed it didn't go through the prop.

 

 

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The circumstance was that the person was taking photos with a phone and wanted a clear view, not through the windscreen. As they moved their hand out into the slipstream, the force just ripped the phone out of their hand.P.S. Wasn't my aircraft, but I was told about it first hand. They were amazed it didn't go through the prop.

Probably just lucky it didn't go through the prop. However, if it was an earlier pre smart phone unit it probably had a smaller surface area and higher mass. The one used on the weekend had a 4 inch screen.

 

Bluey.

 

 

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You as PIC are responsible for your passengers, so you do what you have to do to ensure a safe flight. Whether that be putting them on the ban passenger list or finding a solution to the problem. Or weighing up the options on whether it's worth taking a passenger, it's your choice.

 

Now you know about the phone thing, just alert them that if they want to take photos with their phone, it must be tethered in some way. In this day and age 90% of people will be using a phone for photos.

 

 

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Guest extralite

Although the annoyance is understandable at the passenger not listening to the pilots instructions, it wouldnt be the first time an untethered object has been used in an aircraft or ultralight. On the scale of incidents its not the worst around..don't want to trivialize it though, your aircraft is your baby and you probably are a very safe pilot with high safety standards. Probably take some fun out of the joy of flight for the pax to get a bollocking over it.Not saying i wouldn't be annoyed either, but its good to try and be easy going in recreational aviation whenever possible. Sometimes for a recreational sport, the mood can be a bit serious.

 

 

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Guest davidh10
..Now you know about the phone thing, just alert them that if they want to take photos with their phone, it must be tethered in some way. In this day and age 90% of people will be using a phone for photos.

It is really quite an issue, as the majority of SmartPhones do not provide any means of tethering. Some have rubberised cases that improve the grip, but that is about all. I have only allowed one person (my adult son) to take photos and video with a SmartPhone, and I spent extra time ensuring we examined the risks and agreeing controls to minimise the chance of an incident. I certainly would not trust an acquaintance in those circumstances, although I have carried PAX who have a phone with them, after ensuring it was well secured in a pocket and not to be removed.

 

Bluey's problem was a little unique, in that the PAX appeared compliant, but then, when in flight, acted in contravention of what she had agreed. It certainly makes the case for collecting loose items in a zip lock bag and stowing them under the seat or leaving them on the ground for the duration of the flight.

 

Thanks for posting about it Bluey. Just something else we have to think about!

 

 

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From now on, I'll be insisting that all items that cannot be tethered be either left on the ground or stowed in one of the zipped bags in the trike.

 

Although I was very tempted, I haven't led on how I really felt about the incident to the PAX. they are still floating on cloud nine oblivious to all this and I have no intention of making any further issue of it with them.

 

Bluey

 

 

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Your posting has made others aware. That's a good thing. Having an object go into a pusher prop is not the go. A lot of "tractor" pilots are not aware of the risks. Nev

 

 

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Guest Crezzi
Having an object go into a pusher prop is not the go.

Many years ago my passengers helmet come off & went through the prop- thats absolutely not something I would wish on my worst enemy !

 

A lot of "tractor" pilots are not aware of the risks. Nev

I would really hope that this is something all trike pilots were taught to be aware of although, as Blueys experience (& mine !) shows, awareness doesn't guarantee that it won't happen

Cheers

 

John

 

 

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