Obnoxious passenger

I have an acquaintance that decided my certificate and rating was his entree to having his own private airline, for free of course. He and I shared a business arrangement many years ago and time has a way of making those irritations now seem somewhat humorous, plus I got my satisfaction along the way. Some examples.

I got a phone call one late Sunday afternoon and he wanted me to fly him about a 100 miles to pick up his girlfriend. I told him I had no desire to do that but he continued to whine and I finally agreed. We took off, just before dark, and headed West from Oklahoma City. I had planned a nice direct flight to Altus. He wanted to follow the highway and, to an extent, I agreed, identifying the various towns as we passed over them. It quickly became nighttime. Let me explain that dark in Western Oklahoma is severe dark. The odd light here and there on this moonless eve left to the imagination where the horizon and the sky came together. I flew towards Lawton which is big enough to be seen from a distance, but on the North side of the town is a large restricted airspace. When active this airspace is prone to be occupied by large artillary projectiles and is best avoided. I turned to the right (it was a beautifully gentle turn), while accidentally distracting him with our position on the sectional. When he looked up there was nothing in the windscreen except the pitch black night. He began to scream (literally) that we were lost and where did everything go? I made a few choice statements, which I will not repeat, and told him to be quiet and relax (more or less). I woke up the TRSA at Altus AFB and they informed me that had no traffic and did not want to talk to me. I said thanks and flew through the middle of their airspace. We got to Altus Municipal and landed. His girlfriend took another 45 minutes to get to the airport before we could load and leave. It was 2100 before we were wheels up on the return.

On another flight we were taking off from a remote airport in NW Oklahoma. We rolled down the 60' wide asphalt strip and rotated. As luck would have it, just at lift off the top latch on the door popped and (well we have all been there). The noise, however, did nothing for his disposition. I decided to help him understand the lack of seriousness of a slightly opened door. I reached over and flipped the door latched open and shoved the door into the slip stream. I told him to hold on to the arm rest. I glanced over at him and he was completely pallid and staring straight ahead with a death grip on the arm rest. I circled landed and re-secured the door. Off we went again. We were level at 5500 and I noticed the pitch attitude kept changing. I started trying figure out what was wrong and noticed he was leaning forward and then back. I asked what he was doing and he said he was trying to see if there were any fish in the lake we were overflying. I said well let me get that wing out of your way and immediately rolled into a 45 degree bank. In his attemtp to remain vertical he wound up almost laying in my lap. A situation which I immediately discouraged.

We parted company when I discovered his embezzlement and other complicating activities. Was I mean, maybe, but he kept coming back for another freebie. Do I feel bad about it, nah its still funny all these years later. He remains the only passenger I have ever tried to discourage from flying with me.


  • Bill, you must be some friend...I dont think I would have given this guy another ride after the first incident. Nobody wants to ride with a backseat driver or whiner (or at least me) :)
  • LOL! Yeah that is funny, Bill. On your next "freebie" you should have told him your plane was in for maintnance and you would have to go in the C-152. Then you could have shown him how the doors could be used as rudders. Heh, my instructor scared the pudding out of me with that one.
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