The following blog comment, made this morning by Steve at the Pub, reveals passenger-think so stunningly bizarre that it deserves a whole blog entry.
Occasionally when asked by passengers what I thought about when flying (rotor wing), I stated (accurately) that am always running through in my mind where and how I would land if the engine quit. (This scenario updated mentally every few seconds).
The (puzzling but all too common) response: "Hmmpff, we CERTAINLY aren't flying with you then!"
I've said several times on this blog that as pilots it's our job to think about what could go wrong, and that that becomes a permanent mindset. I've described, for example, being laughed at for noting a feature of an SUV that could pose a hazard during an emergency evacuation. In a single-engine aircraft I am doing exactly what Steve does, surveying the countryside for an appropriate place to land if the engine failed. Once upon a time I had a job where I flew a small single-engine airplane at fairly low altitude over the same area every day. On my day off I took my car and I drove around the area to inspect the emergency landing sites I had chosen from the air, looking for wires and ditches and other hazards that I might not have noticed from above. I paced them off to see how long they were, and whether there were good things to crash into in the overrun. I learned their names so that I would be able to broadcast "Landing on the sports field of Sir John A. Macdonald school" as opposed to "Landing on some school field down here." I never had to use any of my chosen sites, but I was prepared.
I can understand why passengers would be taken aback to learn that the pilot is thinking about such a thing. They were thinking about how funny cows look from on top, or about how a lot more people have swimming pools than they expected. I can see them being frightened by the reminder that the engine could quit. I can see them being surprised that the pilot would have enough control to choose a landing site. But to have them reject the pilot for that? It makes no sense.
I wonder what answer they were expecting. "I admire the majesty of the scenery"? Surely not, "It takes all my concentration to remember what all these dials and levers do." Perhaps, "I think about my giant pilot paycheques," or "I daydream about going down to the pub for a few and then shagging my girlfriend," or "It depends how close to lunchtime it is." I mean honestly, if the safety-oriented answer isn't the safe one, what is? I suppose a more reassuring wording could be, "I'm always concentrating on what I can do to enhance the safety of the flight," but that's so insipid it doesn't sound believable, even though it's a variety of the truth.
If the safe answer is not a safe answer, then there's no safe answer. It makes you want to lock the passengers behind the cockpit door and not tell them anything that isn't on the list of approved PAs.