Re: Flying in the Jump Seat (was: A319 engines thrust changes

Date:         17 May 97 15:15:54 
From:         Graham Barber <gbarber@griffin.co.uk>
References:   1 2 3 4 5
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Sir

i read your email with great interest, as i have been in your situation
many times.

I worked for 10 years in Air Traffic Control in the UK but left on very
minor medical grounds. I still love flying and travelling and love nothing
more than a jump seat ride.

I have only ever once been refused a visit to the flight deck (in 1992 by
Thai International) and have traveled extensively world-wide. When working
in ATC I used to be able to take quite regular familiarisation flights
where the entire flight was spent on the flight deck. Now, like yourself, I
have to ask.

I honestly believe that most airline captains genuinely enjoy having
members of the public on the flight deck for landing, if the person is
interested in what is going on. Naturally they get requests from all sorts
of young children etc but appear to normally refuse as they need to keep in
mind the fact that the crew workload is likely to be very high, total
concentration will be needed and the very last thing they need will be
anyone shouting, distracting or generally being a pain in the ass.

 I have found it is best to ask for a flight deck visit at around two
thirds distance and when you are in there and have appeared greatly
interested a polite request is rarely refused. I obviously have a far
better chance than most and on most flights I have never needed to ask the
question as the offer of a jumpseat landing is made. In every case I, like
you, are amazed at what does go on especially during a holding pastern and
decent into a very busy airfield.

My advice is, dress reasonably smart (not a dinner suit but not a scruff
either!) appear interested and politely ask the question.

My greatest ever success was when I visited some relations in Melbourne,
Australia. The home leg started with MEL - Hong Kong. For at least 10 years
I have waited for the chance to visit Hong Kong let alone sit on the flight
deck for a landing in HKG. I decided to ask the question which, if refused,
would grow to begging!.

Before I left the UK  I wrote to QANTAS. I stated my flight number and
assured them of my interest and my maturity etc. A letter was waiting at
QANTAS check in in Melbourne from a Chief Pilot - B767 and I spent the
first hour during taxi and departure from MEL and the final hour of decent
into HKG. Will I ever forget this? No.

US airlines have strict rules which even I could not get around. Even ATC
personnel have to be on an official familiarisation flight (with proof
paperwork) to gain access.

The rule is ask, be polite, plan ahead if you can and never be frightened
to ask. Many Captains will welcome you.

Graham Barber.
gbarber@griffin.co.uk