"I take many friends sightseeing near my home base KHGR. What precautions should one take prior to setting out on such a flight?" - Pete S.
“The broad nature of your question makes it hard to be overly specific in answering, but Hagerstown, MD or any other sightseeing flight brings up some excellent discussion items.
First and foremost the proximity of your airport to the Metro Washington DC area raises important airspace concerns. No matter where we fly, we need to thoroughly understand where we can safely operate and what we must avoid.
Sightseeing flights always make me a little nervous because of the fact that they take place close to the ground and contain a built in distraction. Neither of these situations is ideal!
A key to keeping these flights safe is a solid preflight briefing to our passengers. Along with our standard passenger briefing, they need to know that we will NOT make any low passes over people or places on the ground. It’s dangerous and inappropriate. They also need to be briefed on airsickness since sightseeing flights might involve extra maneuvering flight.
The subject of a sterile cockpit needs to be clearly understood so that there are no distractions to the pilot at inappropriate times.
Most importantly the pilot needs to FLY THE AIRCRAFT safely and judiciously throughout the duration of the flight. Slow flying or steep turns will not only unnerve the passengers but can put the aircraft dangerously close to a stall at low altitude.
With good preparation and forethought, a sightseeing flight can be a joy for all concerned. Have Fun!”
Sterile Cockpit Procedures:
The sterile cockpit concept recognizes that flight operations other than routine cruise flight are intrinsically more hazardous and require the undivided and vigilant attention of all crew members. The Pilot in Command (PIC) is responsible to ensure that non-essential conversations, activities, and otherwise distracting actions do not occur during critical portions of flight.