Know When to Speak Up

In most cases, silence in the cockpit is golden.

Tip Cockpit Speak Up

Tip Cockpit Speak Up

Flying with friends and fellow pilots can be the best times, but it also has the potential to turn into a nightmare. This can happen when the person beside or behind you becomes a backseat flier. While it is important to speak up in cases that could turn into safety or legal issues, constant reminders about things that are not important can be annoying beyond belief for the pilot-in-command.

Some pilots take pride in flying right on the numbers. While these skills are admirable and while you as a pilot should always pay attention to what goes on in the cockpit, being off your altitude by 100 feet when flying VFR is certainly no cause for alarm or a breach of the FARs. Similarly, flying a fraction off the pink line or a few degrees off the VOR needle, again when flying VFR, may get you to your destination a minute or two later, but does that really matter? You do enjoy flying, don't you?

Instead of getting annoyed by the PIC who's not flying as accurately as you think he or she should, just try to enjoy the flight. Look at the world pass by beneath you instead of focusing on the needles, lines or numbers. And if you feel like the pilot is getting way off course or altitude, just offer a very gentle reminder to get back on track.

There are times, however, when you should speak up. If you see anything that may turn into a violation or safety issue, your friend in the left seat will appreciate you being on the ball. You may notice that you are heading for restricted or Class B airspace through which you are not cleared to enter. You can ask, "Are you aware of the airspace ahead?" If you notice that the PIC is clearly not paying attention, is getting into some kind of unusual attitude or is getting too slow, speaking up may not suffice. You may need to offer a helping hand to make sure the flight progresses safely.

Some pilots are notorious for flying into clouds without an IFR clearance. If you see the nose of the airplane pointing toward the white fluffy stuff, speak up. And if the PIC gets annoyed by you not wanting to violate a FAR, you may want to consider flying with someone else.

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