By Bob Mackey, Vice President, Falcon Insurance Agency, Inc.
I've had the fun and enjoyment of flying into many fly-ins: EAA Chapter fly-ins, fly-in air shows, and yes, I've even flown into EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. It is important to be safe and have fun while participating in a fly-in.
If you're going to fly to a fly-in, it is likely you will take someone with you; a friend, maybe another pilot, or a non-pilot. As the pilot-in-command, it's your job to be safe - but you're also acting as an ambassador for all of aviation. Be smart; this is your opportunity to share aviation and turn others on to the great world of flying.
Before you launch, take the time to do a little teaching. Your pre-flight activities are your first opportunity to be an ambassador. When I have the chance to fly Young Eagles I am always amazed by the way youngsters watch and learn when you explain how an airplane works. It's also a super time to explain why flying is safe. If the weather isn't great, then drive! There'll be plenty of other airplanes to see, and the folks putting on the fly-in will appreciate your support.
If your passengers are new to flying, take the opportunity to share a new view on the world. If there are a few bumps, explain that it's just like waves on the lake, enjoy the ride and let your passengers understand what's going on. Odds are there are going to be other aircraft as you approach the airport, a busy UNICOM frequency, and maybe an unfamiliar pattern. If you did your homework, you already have a plan for approach. Slow down, announce your intentions, and fit into the pattern. Share the airspace. Remember it's not a race. A good landing starts in the pattern, so fly smart.
I was giving an airplane ride to some non-pilot friends one time and decided to buzz the runway. After my masterful low pass, as we walked into the FBO, another pilot came up to me and shared his opinion of my stupidity, right in front of my friends. I was wrong and I was embarrassed. I certainly wasn't an ambassador that day, but I learned a lesson. Make your best landing. You'll impress your passenger and you'll also be proving you're a good (smart) pilot.
No doubt breakfast will be good, but just like the airlines, nobody takes a trip for the food. That's also true at a fly-in. Enjoy showing your passenger around, and take time to look at the other great airplanes. You can use this opportunity to tell your passenger about the various kinds of airplanes.
When you're ready to head home, don't worry about a fancy takeoff. Even if you're flying a high performance airplane, do a proper takeoff - the last thing you want to do is a steep climb out. The next thing you'll find is you're slow and way too low for a departure stall. Enjoy your flight home. Invite your passenger to go again, and maybe if you're lucky, you can suggest a flying lesson.
Flying is not inherently unsafe. I think I've done many, if not all, of the wrong things when flying to a fly-in. My comments come from experience and not always good ones. The first time I went up in a single-engine airplane I went with a friend who was smart and safe. We had a great flight to a small airport. The pilot didn't show off and he helped me decide I wanted to be a pilot.
You can do this, too, and you probably already do, just don't forget to be an ambassador. Be safe and be smart, and have fun.
EAA INSURANCE TIPS is a special EAA Member benefit. If you have an insurance related topic you’d like to see addressed or if you have any comments, please email Bob Mackey. If you need an insurance quotation call 866-647-4EAA (4322) or submit the online quote request form.