After I earned my pilot’s license in 1970, I took my cousin flying in a Cessna 172. After arriving at cruise altitude, I leaned the engine until the engine ran a little rough, and then enriched the fuel; normal procedure. To this day, she claims that I shut the engine down and refuses to fly in a small aircraft again. That’s my fault. I should have explained in layman’s language, what I was doing. Instead, I had said nothing.
While on an IFR flight with my wife, I took, what was to me, a reasonable risk and ended up with a small amount of ice on my windscreen, wings, etc. After the flight, my wife Gerry gave me fair warning, “If you ever scare me again, I’ll never fly with you.” I love flying with my wife and I can’t imagine a flight without her. So, even if something seems reasonable, I always consider how my non-pilot wife is feeling.
I have a pilot friend who, while flying with his wife, almost ran out of fuel because if he had landed to refuel, he would have added an extra half hour to his total flight time. Another friend told me that although he did not have an Instrument License, he had flown through a great deal of weather – again with his wife in the right seat.
The wives of these pilots told me, well before these stories were related, that although they had once been willing flying partners, now they won’t fly with their husbands.
I have another friend who had never personally done anything to scare his wife while flying. However, their close pilot friend, considered by many to be a wonderful pilot, had lived through two serious crashes. He did not survive his third crash. And so, she reasoned that so called wonderful pilots eventually die in a crash. Ergo, she won’t fly in a “little airplane”.
What can you do? You can earn your flying partner’s respect by remembering:
- Assuming your partner is not Evil Knievel, fly conservatively; don’t take unnecessary chances.
- Be a communicator and tell your partner about your plan to safely avoid the weather ahead and explain why that “red light” just came on.
- Don’t be a condescending jerk. Encourage questions and seek your partner’s input. Explain, explain, explain!
- Stay out of the ice and well clear of convective weather.
- Fly in the cool of the morning when the air is smooth. Nobody likes turbulence.
When you ask your spouse, “Who’s the best pilot you know?”
I hope the reply is, “You are honey . . . you are!”