Your first flight with a passenger

If you’re a student pilot reading this, I hope you have not taken your first flight with a passenger–because that would be a violation of the FARs. But we all know that the privilege to take a passenger flying is something we anticipate when we’re in the throes of training, performing our umpteenth power-off stall or plotting yet another flight and squinting over yet another weather forecast. There’s just something special about the prospect of sharing the joy of flight with someone else–hopefully someone who will come to love it as much as we do.

In the March issue of Flight Training, just gone to the printer, we bring you a story of a brand-new pilot who chose his dad and a good friend to be his first passengers. What happened on that flight made it memorable in more ways than one. I’ll say no more, except to tell you to read it when your issue hits your mailbox or your digital device.

And when you’re finished, if you’re a certificated pilot, please share your memories of your first flight with a passenger. Was it everything you thought it would be? Was it scary to have that responsibility–or was it fulfilling–or maybe a little of both? Please share your memories in the Comments section.–Jill Tallman

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  • Lance Calvert

    Ah yes, my first flight after achieving that private pilot status….what better memory than taking your wife with you to First Flight Airfield in Kitty Hawk, NC! Take off from Fayetteville and enroute were picture perfect (to include a couple traffic patterns with her at FAY to make sure I wasn’t all jacked up from a two week lay-off!). Once we entered the final descent and landing phase the pucker factor kicked in as the airfield is right on the NC coast with some interesting cross winds, and was only 200ft longer that the shortest field I had landed in to date. Thought running through the mind – “don’t kill her, don’t kill her…” Cross winds, stall warning chirping at me, short field approaching…landed, stopped by midfield and realized all was good! Enjoyed a great day at the monument and a wonderful sunset return flight with no issues. A day I’ll never forget!

  • John

    The day I got my wings, I got checked out in a Cessna 172, having earned my PPL in a 152. Not having a night check out yet, I rented a Cessna 152 and took my first passenger, a college friend, up to Lake Geneva, WI and the Playboy club that used to be there.

    How hard could this be? I did my flight planning, then did it again just to be sure. It was a simple course, but at night, so my primary navigation was intercepting the 355 radial from DuPage VOR and following it for 28 minutes.

    No problem.

    And, it wasn’t really, but it was amazing how the instruments don’t cooperate (seemingly) and how funny that engine can sound at 2,500 feet in the darkness of night in November.

    While somewhat nerve wracking, we made it, and my friend never told me just how white-knuckled he was (but you could tell by his body language and how silent he became when I began tapping the VOR gauge).

    But when he looked up at the stars and remarked how many there were (being away from Chicago now), I knew I had not miss-spent my youth in learning to fly.

    Since then, he’s been up with my many times, and we laugh about that ‘harrowing’ experience every now and then.

  • Rick L

    My first passenger flight was on Labor Day 2011. I had just passed my check ride 4 days earlier and was thrilled to have good weather in the forecast. I had rented an airplane for the entire afternoon and had a 160NM round trip planned for my wife and I.

    In the car on the way to our local airport, my wife looked at me with a panicked look and said, “OK, now I’m a little nervous” (meaning she was completely freaking’ out, but restraining herself). I told her that it would be a great day and I was a little nervous also. I reassured her by telling her my instructor and flight examiner would not have given me a license if I wasn’t ready.

    Preflight, Run-up and Taxi were all different than I was used to. A non-pilot passenger asking questions was a great review for the “Why” of preflight checks. After taxing into position on the runway I looked over and said “Ready?” She responded with just a nod and I went to full power and began speeding down the runway. During our climb out we flew directly over our house and finally the Wow factor set in for my wife. “I can see our house and my car!” she said. After training for so long I almost forgot how much fun it is to look out the airplane window and see the area you live in from a small aircraft at low altitudes.

    The flight was uneventful, at least in my passenger’s eyes. Smooth air and a high ceiling made for great flying and I was happy with my first landing carrying a passenger. It was not my best landing but I was happy with it and my wife was releived to be on the ground again. “That was better than some of the commercial flights I have been on.” she said. It wasn’t, but I was happy to hear it anyways because if your passanger is happy then you did a good job, right?

    We ate lunch and walked around the area for a while before heading for home. Landing at home was easy after the todays challenges of my first passanger flight. Landing, taxi and tie-down completed our afternoon adventure.

    That day, I experienced one of the greatest moments of joy in my life, finally sharing the flight experience with the love of my life. She waited patiently as I trained for 2.5 years and finally today was the beginning of a whole new world for both of us. I have been fortunate to go on additional trips with family and friends since passing the check ride but none are as memorable as my first $100 hamburger(Pizza actually) with my wife on Labor Day of 2011. Flight Training provides a lifetime of memorable experiences and will change you and your perspective of the world forever.

    Fly Safe!

  • Lee Miller

    It was the summer of 1970 but I remember it as if it were yesterday. I was a newly minted private pilot, 17 years old and with only a few hours in my log book but I figured I was ready when my dad (who got his certificate at about the same time as I) asked me if I’d like to take up his best friend from high school’s son.
    A beautiful day at Enid (OK) Woodring field and calm winds for the area. We took off and headed out towards the farm where I lived so he could see it from the air and I showed him some slow turns and let him handle the flight controls for a minute. He was all excited and talkative and seemed to be enjoying himself.
    Since it took a little while to get to the farm I also showed him a few gentle altitude changes and that’s when I noticed he wasn’t talking any more. I looked his way and have never seen a whiter person in my life.
    At that point I stopped any unnecessary motion and headed the plane back to the field but didn’t make it far before his stomach ended up on the control panel.
    He apologized (I told him it was my fault) and even helped wipe the instrumenets off so I could see and we had an uneventful landing back at the field.
    The wife of the chief pilot at Sellers Aviation (now defunct) said it wasn’t the first time and that she’d clean up the plane, but I gained a valuable lesson about ALWAYS taking the passengers well being into consideration, always have a bag ready in case they just can’t make it, and always carry something to clean off instruments if they become obscured.

  • Martín Lozano

    Two days after getting my ticket, on November 19, 2011, I took my significant other, Beth, to the nearest airport. I will never forget the sense of achievement after our flight. Communicating with the tower, in this case, at Santa Rosa airport, north of my airport, Petaluma. It is very interesting to know how non-flyers “see” our world. She was carried away by aviation terminology and wondered how we aviators develop visual skills to see other aircraft.