Solo Travel-Flight Safety While Sightseeing. I have soared over lush fields in a hot air balloon, flown over Victoria Falls in a very small plane and hopped aboard a helicopter to view the California coastline. At that time, it never crossed my mind to check out the company and the pilot’s credentials.
Solo Travel-Flight Safety While Sightseeing: Update:
In more recent years, there have been well-publicized accidents where tourists have been killed from small aircraft in Alaska to a hot air balloon in Egypt. In the US, the National Transportation Safety Board in 2019 has raised the issue of whether passengers in such non-scheduled aircraft should be given safety information noting that there are different safety standards than those required of commercial aircraft. The NTSB apparently was responding to two crashes in spring 2019, one in Alaska involving two float planes and the other a helicopter crash in Hawaii. The two took the lives of 11 people while injuring 10 more. The NTSB has recommended augmented safety standards, flight data recorders and additional pilot training.
Solo Travel-Flight Safety While Sightseeing: What to Do:
The Air Charter Safety Foundation President Bryan Burns recommends that passengers plan ahead doing their own research. Quoted in the Washington Post June 5, 2019, he recommended the following queries:
Does the provider have an FAA air-carrier certificate?
What is the company’s prior safety record?
What maintenance and management system do they have?
Solo Travel-Flight Safety While Sightseeing: Things to Think About:
From my layman’s perceptive, one factor I considered was the weather patterns where I was traveling. I flew repeatedly in small planes in southern Africa absent other options. However, it was during a drought where weather patterns were consistent. In addition, we flew over wide-open spaces of flat land where it was not only possible but probable that we would land on a strip in the bush.
I personally had reservations about flying small planes around glaciers while traveling in Alaska. Although air travel is more common there than by automobiles in Alaska, I was uncertain how sudden storms could impact safety. Other challenges can include landings on water or on frozen lakes. As a result of the special concerns there, the NTSB held hearings in August 2017 to address some of the unique conditions and challenges presented in Alaska. The Alaska Air Carriers Association vigorously disagreed with certain of the concerns raised.
Whatever conclusions can be drawn from such public hearings, the key thing for each traveler is to research providers before booking a possibly risky tour.