Dave Hirschman

Really dumb placards

December 10, 2008 by Dave Hirschman, Senior Editor

There’s a lot of wisdom in cockpit placards. But there’s plenty of absurdity, too.

The plane I own is a single-seat RV-3 with a big “experimental” sticker in the cockpit. Yet the plane is also required to have a “passenger warning” that tells of the experimental nature of the plane, despite the fact it’s got no passenger seats.

A BE-36 Bonanza I get to fly from time to time has some classics such as “Minimum Flight Crew: One,” and “Do Not Smoke While Oxygen Is In Use.”

AOPA’s Get Your Glass Sweepstakes Archer has a bunch of placards, and some of them are downright comical. My favorite appears below the JPI fuel computer. The JPI is astonishingly accurate and gives a constant readout of fuel used and fuel (and time) remaining. Yet the placard beneath it tells pilots to rely on the inherently unreliable, 32-year-old, float-type fuel gauge (the one the plane was certified with in 1976). Would any thinking person really trust a disco-era gauge when a modern, digital instrument as accurate as an eye-dropper is a few inches away?

Bruce Dickenson, a highly accomplished pilot and aircraft builder in California, posted this placard on the door of his most recent creation: a stunningly gorgeous and highly modified Howard DGA:

It says “Warning! For your safety . . . please stand back 4 feet from this aircraft. This aircraft has been HOMEBUILT and could fall on you at any time. Furthermore . . . because this aircraft was built by a Farmer and Retired Cop, it is branded amateur-built, so please stand an additional 6 feet back. If you choose to come within these boundaries, please be warned that this is an Experimental Aircraft and we have no idea what it will do at any moment! The Farmer”

Please write and let us know about your favority placards!


85 Responses to “Really dumb placards”

  1. Wirelizard Says:

    A homebuilt Skybolt aerobatic biplane I know has
    “Intentional Straight & Level Flight Prohibited”
    placarded in one of the cockpits.

  2. Richard Kemp #04339160 Says:

    Printed on the inside of the sunshades window covers, “Remove Before Flight”.

  3. Herb Jacobs Says:

    I created a couple and have them in my planes.
    “Dont crash”
    and a plastic engraved job with an arrow “UP”

    Thats all from me for now

  4. Michael Mauldin Says:

    My SuperDecathlon had a placard:
    “No Smoking, first two rows”

  5. Andrew Klarmann Says:

    “No Drinking No Sex On Final”

    Found during an annual inspection of a PA28-140

  6. Milford Shirley Says:

    I saw a Starduster Too with a placard that said, “An Aviation Scarf Will Be Worn At All Times When Piloting This Aircraft.”

  7. Ted Cowan Says:

    I have an Experimental Kolb Slingshot and on the very end of the fuse, just before the prop on this pusher, mine reads: “Do not touch prop while turning”. The Inspector thought that was cute.

  8. RA Hatley Says:

    For years our skydiving aircraft had the following placard.

    Periodic Noxious Anal Emissions

  9. Richard Jenkins Says:

    I have one in my aircraft:



  10. C. Frank Bales Says:

    On a Navion Rangemaster that has one door on the pilot’s side; Door to Operated by Pilot ONLY!

    Several Different Planes; If You Must Smoke, Please Step Outside!

    My old flight instructor’s planes had this one in his trainers; Push Yoke to See Houses, Pull Yoke to See Houses Really Fast!

  11. Pete Bedell Says:

    The Cessna 172 that my Dad bought in 1981 came with a placard that says “Please step outside to smoke.”

  12. Fernando Donatti Says:

    A friend of mine has some placards writtten in plain English with a Braille translation underneath. In addition (knowing is not aviation related) I have seen Braille signs on drive-throughs at banks…. and or restaurant menues that read “If your language is not English, please request a menu from your waiter on the following.. (listing different languages)… I wonder how!

  13. Bruce Says:

    CFI and SR-71 astronaut wannabe Nelson Krueger had a placard on the filler tube of his gasoline-powered automobile that read “Jet-A Only”. Fortunately for him he usually went to self-serve gasoline pumps, and paid little attention to his dumb placard.

  14. wsinsel Says:

    While I really enjoy the new modern instuments and have come to trust them, I would be very glad indeed to have an old “disco era” fuel gauge in the airplane when the fancy stuff quits. Not to mention an idea of how much time in fuel I have in math terms. I’ve had instruments, transponders ans alternators quit. Now what? The electronic crutch is a fine instrument but it cannot replace awareness and preparation for the unplanned.
    The “no smoking while oxygen in use ” placard is still a viable placard, not meant to be humorous. I see almost daily, unsafe oxygen handling and use taking place, especially by those who should know better.
    The minimum crew thing comes from the fact that people will and do turn on the autopilot and then pursue other activities. This is well documented.
    Placards for the most part are useful, especially to low time pilots and to those not type specific. There are plenty of things in this life which do not make sense, religion and politics for example but placards in an aircraft are informative and useful.

  15. Cal Brubaker Says:

    On a Decathalon panel, in a shade hangar at SLC: “If Engine Quits, Land Plane”

  16. rojo Says:

    Loosen up. We all know that placards are there for our awareness and safety. This blog is meant to be light hearted and fun. I bet you’re the type of person people avoid at parties. No sense of humor.

  17. Carl Gollnick Says:

    Placards are supposed to highlight and bring attention to an unusual, odd, important, can’t be overlooked,specific item. Unfortunately, the required placards are almost to the point of having the entire POH (and nonsensical warnings) plastered all over the cockpit. As such they ALL lose their importance.

  18. Mel Asberry Says:

    Not sure if you are aware, but the passenger warning placard hasn’t been required on single seat homebuilts for 10 years, and since the RV-3 design is over 30 years old, the “experimental” placard is not required. It may be replaced with an “X” in the N number. ref FAR part 45.22(b)
    Mel Asberry DAR

  19. Joseph Maridon Says:

    I had a placard in all my aircraft that said ” Don’t do anything stupid”.

  20. Dave Says:

    This isn’t a placard, but it is aviation related. When memorizing the Emergency Procedures section of the trainer’s flight manual, I noticed a truly absurd step that any rational person would not have to be told: if the aircraft caught fire on the ground during startup and the preceding steps did not extinguish the fire, the final step was to “exit the aircraft.”

    As if anyone would sit there after doing the first several steps, see the fire was still blazing away, and sit there wondering, “now what?”

  21. Dick Russell Says:

    We can thank the lawyers for these ridiculous placards. Can’t you see an attorney defending a fellow who props his plane with no one in the cockpit, it gets away and does damage. His argument might be that there was no placard indicating that a crewmember needs to be in the cockpit. There is usually a reason why we see such obvious “required” placards if one wishes to take the time to research it.
    There will always be those who get carried away with their “cute” placards which are easily made to look professional with present day label maker machines. Pilots are required to cope with a multitude of tasks without having to sort out only those that apply to the safe operation of the aircraft.

  22. David Reeve Says:

    On June 16, 1947, Republic Aviation issued a SeaBee (RC3) service News Letter No. 33 that provided a “simplified decal checlist…..applied to your instrument panel for ready use. Forming the habit of referring to this list prior to making your approach will insure you against joining the list of those who ‘forgot'”. The decal:

    THINK (1″ letters)

    This was in response to “a number of instances of pilots bringing their airplanes in for a water landing with the landing gear in the extended postion”

  23. Andreas Goedde Says:

    While I was in the U.S. Army I rode in a UH-1 Huey helicopter. There was a placard on the dash that read, “Nicht das Gefingerpoken of das Gepuschenbutton. Just gesitten back, tighten das Geseatenbelten and watchen for Geblinkenlighten so nicht gehitten otter Gefliegenchopper!”

  24. Gary Ludeke Says:

    One of my favorite placards was in the Mooney owned by a friend. It read UNINTENTIONAL MANEUVERS PROHIBITED

  25. Ryan Montague Says:

    I have a Navion in my shop right now that is clearly placarded

    AIRCRAFT LIMITATIONS: Do not bend, fold, spindle or mutilate.

  26. Richard Says:

    “To Prevent Injury due to the Extreme Performance of this Aircraft, Female Passengers Should Remove All Undergarments. Pilot Assistance Recommended”.

  27. Scott Walker Says:

    What about the classic “Get In, Sit Down, Hold On, & Shut Up”? Saw that in an Ercoupe at Oshkosh…

  28. Steve Baisley Says:

    I put a placard in my 310 which states “PASSENGERS WISHING TO SMOKE WILL KINDLY STEP OUTSIDE”

    No takers so far.

  29. Mark Yokers Says:

    Here’s an appropriate poem that show’s we who fly airplanes aren’t the only ones annoyed by senseless warnings – although the last line does have to do with flying :)

    by David Allen Sullivan

    A can of self-defense pepper spray says it may
    irritate the eyes, while a bathroom heater says it’s
    not to be used in bathrooms. I collect warnings
    the way I used to collect philosophy quotes.

    Wittgenstein’s There’s no such thing
    as clear milk rubs shoulders with a box
    of rat poison which has been found
    to cause cancer in laboratory mice.

    Levinas’ Language is a battering ram—
    a sign that says the very fact of saying,
    is as inscrutable as the laser pointer’s advice:
    Do not look into laser with remaining eye.

    Last week I boxed up the solemn row
    of philosophy tomes and carted them down
    to the used bookstore. The dolly read:
    Not to be used to transport humans.

    Did lawyers insist that the 13-inch wheel
    on the wheelbarrow proclaim it’s
    not intended for highway use? Or that the
    Curling iron is for external use only?

    Abram says that realists render material
    to give the reader the illusion of the ordinary.
    What would he make of Shin pads cannot protect
    any part of the body they do not cover?

    I load boxes of books onto the counter. Flip
    to a yellow-highlighted passage in Aristotle:
    Whiteness which lasts for a long time is no whiter
    than whiteness which lasts only a day.

    A.A.’ers talk about the blinding glare
    of the obvious: Objects in the mirror
    are actually behind you, Electric cattle prod
    only to be used on animals, Warning: Knives are sharp.

    What would I have done without: Remove infant
    before folding for storage, Do not use hair dryer
    while sleeping, Eating pet rocks may lead to broken
    teeth, Do not use deodorant intimately?

    Goodbye to all those sentences that sought
    to puncture the illusory world-like the warning
    on the polyester Halloween outfit for my son:
    Batman costume will not enable you to fly.

    “Warnings” by David Allen Sullivan from Strong-Armed Angels. © Hummingbird Press, 2008.

  30. Jim Klick Says:

    My factory built Pitts S1S is certified in the Acrobatic Category.
    It has a placard that states: “This airplane MUST be operated as an Acrobatic Category
    I assume that if I fly straight and level for too long, I will be in violation of the
    Operating Certificate.

  31. Robert Swanson Says:

    My Cessna 172 is required to have the following two placards

    Use both tanks for landing

    Use only one tank above 5000 feet msl

    Which presents a problem for airports like Santa Fe, above 5000 feet. I have not pointed this
    out to my GADO, for fear that I would be banned from such airports. I believe that the second
    placard was related to moving the fuel tank vent from above the wing to behind the strut. My above the wing vent has never given trouble with either one or two tanks feeding the engine.

  32. Sean Caranna Says:

    My Cessna 152 is placarded
    “Never Run Out of Airspeed, Altitude, and Ideas at the Same Time”

  33. flyper Says:

    Look at it this way, when an airplane has two sets of flight controls, one might come up with the idea, that there are actually two pilots required to operate this machine!

    On my last job in Africa we really had a hard time convincing the authorities, that a C206 can be safely (and legally) operated by only one pilot. A placard from the manufacturer (or a hint in the operating handbook) stating “minimum flightcrew – one” would have saved us a lot of headache…

  34. Walt Keith Says:

    The Army L-5 Stinson could carry a litter patient if the back seat was removed. A placard on the panel stated “INTENTIONAL SPINS WITH LITTER PATIENTS PROHIBITED”

  35. David Nagel Says:

    Don’t forget the immortal warning on all McDonnald coffee cups” CAUTION COFFEE IS HOT”

  36. David Marco Says:

    in the P-51 Sizzlin’ Liz – “feed one ME-109 daily”

  37. Rolly Hughes Says:

    In my old Mooney I knew that it burned 10 gal/hr and held 48 gallons, so I would just fly 4 hours and land. So much for fuel flow gauges.

  38. Steve Hart Says:

    Just in case one can’t tell when the cockpit window in a Boeing 767 is open, the following placard is placed inside the the window sill.


  39. Dave Marion Says:

    In a spoof of the infamous Cessna fuel contamination and seat track warning placards (ERAU students always circled the “death” warning) and as an homage to the time honored computer troubleshooting diagnosis of “PEBKAC” (Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair) I came up with the following for the rental aircraft (Pipers included) at the FBO/CRS where I was working at the time:


  40. Bob Grim Says:

    USAF E-3 (B707). The pilot and co-pilot seats have this placard; “Seat must face forward for take-off and landing”. I know why it’s there but it’s funny anyway.

  41. Alan Baker Says:

    I put a placard over my Luscombe 8F’s throttle-knob saying :-
    “No Aerobatics Below Ground Level”
    Dang it, the FAA is right, my placard worked for all the time I owned it !!

  42. Bill Deguenther Says:

    Tried to replace two placards in my 1964 Cessna 205 this Dec. Calling Cessna parts , I was quoted prices to replace both.
    Cost to replace ” PLACARD-FUEL SELECTOR” S1287-2, $126.00
    Cost to replace “PLACARD-AIRCRAFT LIMITATIONS” 1213617-1, $42.68
    Cost to replace both Placards: PRICELESS

  43. Ken R Says:

    My very first static line parachute jump was from a Cessna 172 with seats and door removed to make it easier for the jumpers to get out. As I climbed out, I was instructed to hold on to the strut and stand on the tire with my left foot. As I did this, I noticed a placard attached to the strut. It read: “DO NOT DIG FINGERNAILS IN STRUT”. I let go laughing.

  44. Thad Says:

    “Fuel remaining is insufficient for take-off when gauge indicates E.” Amusing, but I know personally of at least one situation where an accident could have been avoided had this placard been heeded.

  45. Thad Says:

    Speaking of disco-era gauges, I know of 2 recent incidents when an engine quit and the modern digital fuel computer showed sufficient fuel remaining. This is sometimes due to calibration errors, or rampant stray and mischeavious electrons. These errors seem to occur much less frequently with a cork float gauge.

  46. Chuck Bauman Says:

    Mr. Russell writes ” We can thamk the lawyers for these rediculous placards”. Sorry Dick, but you’re wrong. Thank the client that sought out the lawyerto bring suit for some boneheaded decisionmaking skills. Remember, it’s the client that is doing the suing, not the lawyer. You don’t necessarily need a lawyer to bring suit. Most often these types of clients(rorother and sister pilots, I might add) are simply looking for an advocate to justify their innate stupidity. There. Now I ‘m ready for the onslaught of responses. I agree with rojo, the blog seems to be intended for light-hearted discussion. I personally find some of the placards amusing.

  47. Ann W Says:

    Long time ago, when I went to Space Academy (Level 2) there was a placard on the right side of the panel in the shuttle fixed simulator that read:


    I laughed every time I saw it…and every time I remember it…

    Also…why is it when I go to Flight Safety they have the plastic signs identifying the classrooms, bathrooms also in Braille?? Gotta love ADA regulations…. :-)

  48. Larry Kelly Says:

    Best placard I ever saw was in an Army 2.5 ton truck: Help stamp out virginity!!

  49. C. Gatschet Says:

    “Throttle Push to Open” may have made sense long ago when some airplanes actually had throttles that pulled to open, like a hand throttle on a 1930s car. But today, large jets from MD80s to 747s still bear the required placard by the throttles, “Increase Thrust” with an arrow pointing forward. These machines require a type rating to operate. Come on, big brother.

  50. Mick Fincher Says:

    Many BizJets have,somewhere on the exterior of the aircraft, the word ‘GROUND’ next to an arrow pointing downward.

  51. DAVD R. BIGGER Says:



  52. Dick Coltey Says:

    Placard on the front instrument panel of my Fisher Classic reads ( Relax or you’ll die all tensed up) Makes me relax when I read it. I’m not sure about my passengers. Oh wait, I haven ‘t had any passengers.

  53. Stu Says:

    Our C182 has an “extra” altimeter installed on the right-side panel with the admonishment that the altimeter is “NOT ACCURATE IN FLIGHT”.

    To facilitate installation, it’s not hooked up to an outside static source (but at the blazing speed of the Skylane, it works so very well).

  54. Tom Trump Says:

    All United Airlines aircraft have a safety card in the seatback pockets that says (in essence, but using more words than this) “If you cannot read this, please contact a flight attendant.”

  55. Dan Schmidt Says:

    In my Grob G102 sailplane, I have a placard that reads “EXPERIMENTAL – CRASHING AND AEROBATICS PROHIBITED”

  56. Steve Downs Says:

    I am familiar with the placard on the swim platform of competition inboard ski boats that says:”contact with spinning propeller may cause serious injury or death” I guess that applies to aircraft propellers as well.

  57. John Schilling Says:

    Someone with a sense of humor placarded NASA 905 with “Attach [Space Shuttle] Orbiter Here – Note: Black Side Down”. At least, I sincerely hope they had a sense of humor.

    But as for the glass-cockpit Archer, is the JPI fuel computer really any better than the integrated flight management system of a Boeing 767? Because some of us still remember what happened when the crew of Air Canada Flight 143 decided, on account of their wonderful computers, that they didn’t need no stinkin’ gauges. Sorry, but the crappiest analog measurement of how much fuel you actually have, beats the most precise calculation of how much fuel you are supposed to have.

  58. Allan Badrow Says:

    On all Military C12, (King Air 200) under the engine nacelle.” CAUTION. Disconnect electrical wiring and plumbing before removing wing.” And I thought you could just yank real hard after the bolts were removed.

    On early Beech Musketeers, right side instrument panel, red letters, in plain view.” WARNING: In case of engine fire, turn off cabin heat.” I wonder how many times a passenger in the right seat reads this on a long (or short) flight?

  59. Martha Cook Says:

    On the checklist for my Cessna 180, the first item on the Engine Start section reads “Brain…ENGAGED.” Honestly, often it makes me laugh, and sometimes it makes me pause and follow the advice. :)

  60. Martha Cook Says:

    Re: my last comment, that is of course a 182. Didn’t read through before clicking submit. I guess brain was not engaged.

  61. Russell Hill Says:

    In a C-206 flown in commercial service, the right hand control yoke had been removed. The placard advised that the right hand control yoke had been removed and the plane must be flown from the left seat only.

  62. David Fischer Says:

    The door of my MOONEY has a plackard on it that says “DO NOT SLAM, THIS IS NOT A CESSNA”

  63. Jack Sargeant Says:

    My favorite appears under the required warning on a homebuilt Experimantal: “This aircraft was built by amateurs unlike the Titanic which was built by professionals.”

  64. Donald klarmann Says:

    My name is donald Klarmann. I like to know if andrew klarmann is a Relative of mine.

  65. paul hedtke Says:


    I’ts been a long while since this one was distributed, but I was reviewing my old inboxes and came across it. sorry if it may be too late, but better late than never.

    anyway, pertaining to the topic, I can’t say that I’ve seen any absurd placards, but what I am surprised by is how the old Cessna singles have ‘utility’ catagory placarded in their cockpits, yet the newest ones with all the sophisticated avionics that have no gyros to tumble (except perhaps the backups) have only ‘normal’ catagory placarding in them. It seems that it would be the other way.

    Yet another that I’ve seen on military planes, especially the fighter aircraft, is the ‘NO STEP’ marked everywhere, especially on the control surfaces. This seems rather odd to me as these planes are capable of well over mach 1, and the controls have to be able to endure those aerodynamic forces. So why would they placard them that way. The only thing I can imagine is they are no wanting anyone to stand at the edges for fear the surface could shift and cause the stander to fall from their perch. IN terms of strength and stoutness of the component, it’s just strange to me that they are so heavily labeled that way.

    thank you for your time.


  66. teeth whitener Says:

    I just read your website, and I greatly liked it it.

  67. Mandi Says:

    Good job, showing maturity in your response. Thanks

  68. Sherilyn Says:

    Thanks for saying so, see you then. Thanks

  69. Fantik Says:

    Yeah, we’re glad you like it. I mean, her, awesome thoughts

  70. Mackenzie Arcansore Says:

    Considerably, the post is in reality the greatest on this notable topic. I concur with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your approaching updates. Just saying thanks will not just be sufficient, for the tremendous clarity in your writing. I will right away grab your rss feed to stay privy of any updates. Authentic work and much success in your business endeavors!

  71. Frans Says:

    There are some really great ones in here!

    Paul Hedtke, there is a very simple explanation to the NO STEP placards on control surfaces. The loading these aerodynamic components undergo is huge as you say, much greater than the weight of a human. However, it is also a distributed load, whereas a person standing on the surface with the heel of one foot (which is the loadcase on the surface while walking) can far surpass the yield strength of the skin material.

    It’s like dipping a stick into the sand. That takes no effort at all, yet a car can still drive over the beach without sinking in.

    Favorite placard has to be that on the instrument panel of a DA20: Do not do anything STUPID


  72. Robert Willcott Says:

    I’m still learning from you, but I’m trying to achieve my goals. I certainly love reading all that is written on your site.Keep the tips coming. I enjoyed it!

  73. http://bestmachetesharpener.blog.com Says:

    The edge is less likely to bend, so it will stay sharper for longer.
    For serious collectors, these high quality knives are well worth the price.
    Chopping, slicing, dicing, and peeling, can be so much easier with a set of great quality, forged
    steel knives that have handles that enable a firm, sturdy grip.

  74. hair removal Says:

    Appreciate your various other great article. The site more might anybody obtain that type of data in this ideal method of composing? I own a powerpoint presentation pursuing few days, using this program . around the search for such information.

  75. page Says:


    Does Joomla have a Component that help to create a forum like Yahoo Answers?.

  76. Ross Says:

    The steps with the short step height and deep step depth are constructed for short little legs and are probably best for your cat.
    Your pet can use it to sharpen her claws without destroying your
    furniture. As their claws grow out they’ll be tempted to
    scratch everything around them.

  77. local plumber Says:

    Extremely educational article, I’ll be sharing this!

  78. new zealand accounting software Says:

    Great work, I look forward to reading some more of your related blogs.

  79. Bradley Says:

    What’s up to every one, sine I am in fact eager of reading this
    blog’s post to be updated on a regular basis. It includes fastidious material.

  80. law in pakistan Says:

    Great article.

  81. peeling kawowy Says:

    Hi there, just became aware of your blog through Google,
    and found that it is truly informative. I am gonna watch out for brussels.
    I’ll be grateful if you continue this in future. Numerous people
    will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  82. karnisze Says:

    Greate post. Keep posting such kind of information on your page.
    Im really impressed by it.
    Hey there, You have performed an incredible job.
    I will certainly digg it and individually suggest to my
    friends. I am confident they’ll be benefited from this web site.

  83. D. Anderson Says:

    Many public restrooms have baby-changing stations with Braille instructions. One can only have pity for the person who must change a baby by the Braille method!

  84. Clarisa Blouir Says:

    You have brought up a very great details , appreciate it for the post.

  85. Everytown Hack Says:

    Chronicles of Talera’s main draw is the extensive magic and special abilities system.
    That will totally make her dream for a place in that big loving
    heart of yours. The client is like a feed reader which allows gamers to select games they want
    on their PC.

Leave a Reply