Confidence is everything, especially when you have passengers. I realised very quickly that passengers take their cues from you. If you are calm and confident, then they are relaxed.
Knowing my own little quirks I’d already told K and M that if I went quiet it wasn’t anything to be concerned about. I was just busy flying the plane. I assured them that if anything was wrong I would definitely tell them, as I’d need their cooperation. In the same vein, if I swore to myself it was probably because I hadn’t done something as well as I could have, nothing dangerous; just a little mental kick.
The thing is though; I didn’t actually have to fake the confidence. I really did feel it. This was a routine flight, covering ground I’d been over a hundred times before. Yes the weather was a potential concern but I was confident in my preparedness, I knew where it was coming from and I knew what my “escape route” was.
I hope I projected that. A couple of times K was asking me questions along the line of “how comfortable are you now with the conditions?”
I knew this really meant that she wasn’t sure about things and wanted some reassurance. Reassurance I could happily give because everything was totally fine. I wasn’t even worried about the dropping cloudbase in front of us. My preparation had been thorough, I was thoroughly briefed weatherwise and has spent 10 minutes or so before leaving home just looking at my chart. Despite being intimately familiar with the airspace I checked and double checked the local geography, the airspaces around me.
Even while my passengers were “ooh” and “ahhing” at the pretty crystals sparkling in the air around us, I was calmly evaluating the situation, casually glancing over at the wheels to check for any telltale signs of icing.
There was none to be seen and the snow was fairly light and patchy but I knew the forecast was only due to get worse, the winds were obviously stronger than forecast already. I knew it was time to go back and communicated this to my passengers.
Obviously I did it in such a way that didn’t alarm them in the slightest. K was more concerned that I was turning back because of her. I simply told them that the weather conditions were no longer conducive to a fun flight. Which was pretty much the truth.
The last text message I got from Bob before my flight test was “Confidence and calm”
It seems I finally got there!