I just got back from a business trip to the Philippines yesterday. I didn’t plan to fly this weekend because I thought I’d be jet lagged. However, when I woke finally at 1pm on Sunday afternoon the weather was just perfect and I felt pretty rested. I just had to get up in the air. It was one of those days with absolutely clear blue sky, calm wind and unlimited visibility, I think there’re called severe clear. The long range forecast is predicting a return to winter weather starting mid-week and it might stay that way for the rest of the month. So I decided that if I was finally going to take my first passenger flying it had to be today. My first passenger is my partner Tai, he hasn’t exactly been nagging me to take him flying. In fact I know he is a little scared of the whole idea, so I want to break him in slowly, a short flight with perfect weather to hopefully get him hooked. He already likes the “idea” of 2.5 hours to LA, or 3.5 hrs to Las Vegas, but I‘m still not sure whether he will like the actual experience. As luck would have it, 4754D was available at 3pm so I booked it, called Tai and told him I’d pick him up on the way to the airport (I didn’t give him much choice in the matter). I bet many Pilots have the same thoughts. After months of work and thousands of dollars I hope my (up to now) supportive significant other actually likes flying enough to come with me more than once.
So my first experience of a totally virgin passenger, never been inside a plane without at least two jet engines and 100 seats. On the way out to the plane Tai decided that wearing a headset looked cool and as there was a helicopter practicing nearby it was noisy. So he followed me around, watching me do the pre-flight wearing a headset. I made him take it of once we got inside the plane so I could do my first real passenger briefing, how the seat belts work, not to touch anything, how to get out. For the first time the briefing actually mattered.
We did a downwind departure and climbed up to 5500’. I wanted to get high enough to get the view all the way from Monterey Bay to the Sierra Nevada. On the way up I asked what he thought so far and he said “a little scared looking down”. By the time we leveled off over Anderson Reservoir I was getting “its so beautiful”. I made a big lazy turn left and took us past the Lick Observatory on the top of Mount Hamilton then over Calaveras Reservoir. We started a descent over Sunol and I made a slow left turn to bring us abeam Mission Peak. As I called into RHV Tower we passed over my house. I entered right traffic for 31R and made a picture perfect landing (thank god).
So is he hooked? Not yet, but at least the ice is broken and it wasn’t too bad. He’ll come flying again and we’ll go somewhere useful.