August 1, 2004
Teresa J. Foden
You can fly the summer skies with man's best friend, but whether you're still friends at the end of the trip is all in the preflight planning.
A veteran of mixing dogs with general aviation, Adam Walsh, AOPA aviation technical specialist, says the starting point is what you already know about Rover.
"Planning really depends on the temperament of the dog. If it's a hyper dog it can create problems in the cockpit...even if it's just playing," he says. "But a calm dog may just climb in the backseat and sleep."
The former may require a leash or carrier, and bringing a friend (two-footed) along for the flight may help entertain him with a tug-of-war session or two. The mellow dog, however, may not require much beyond a comfortable seat in which to doze.
Walsh has taken dogs along on his GA flights for years, first Ladybug, a miniature dachshund who was unlikely to be roused from her snooze during the flight, and then Weezee, a mid-size mutt that fares better if Walsh's sister comes along to assist.
Beyond planning for your dog's temperament, bring along a familiar toy or blanket and make sure those at your destination (family, friends, or hotel staff) are prepared for the extra guest. Numerous other tips are available on AOPA Online.
Ideally, take your dog on a short test flight so you see firsthand how he reacts to altitude changes or engine noise, for instance. Call ahead to ask where Rover should relieve himself upon landing, and don't step out of the airplane until you have him on a leash. "The last thing you need is the dog running across the field — they don't understand the hold-short line," says Walsh.
Answers to frequently asked questions about your AOPA membership
Q: What are the benefits of renewing my membership online?
A: It's quick, convenient, and saves you money! You'll get $2 off the cost of your membership dues by using our renewal application online and we'll even send you a free AOPA pilot cap. No check to write, no telephone call to make, and you can do it when it's convenient for you. To renew online, go to our home page (www.aopa.org) and click My AOPA in the left column. From there, select Renew My Membership and follow the simple instructions.
Q: Can AOPA help me with my FAA medical application?
A: Absolutely! AOPA's interactive online medical application TurboMedical ® will guide you through the FAA's Airman Medical Certificate Application and provide you with guidance about what kinds of medical information the FAA form is really asking for. And because it's interactive, when you indicate a "yes" response to an item on the questionnaire, you will be directed to even more detailed information throughout the medical certification area of AOPA's Web site. You'll be able to save your answers so you can access the application before your next FAA medical renewal. Then you can print out the application and transfer all your responses onto the actual FAA form on the day of your flight physical. For further tips on medical certification visit the Web site ( www.aopa.org/members/files/medical/tips.html).
Q: How do I make sure I'm using the right aircraft insurance agency?
A: The aircraft insurance industry is relatively small. While there are hundreds of insurance brokers who sell aircraft insurance, there are only about 10 aviation underwriters — the companies that issue quotes and assume the insurance risk. Most agencies work with a majority of the same underwriters, and can provide you with the same coverage and price as the next agency. Choose an insurance agency you know and trust and one that specializes in light aircraft insurance. Find out why more AOPA members place their trust in the AOPA Insurance Agency — the agency that supports and is backed by AOPA's 400,000 members. Visit the Web site ( www.aopaia.com) or call 800/622-2672.
AOPA's "Flying With Pets" is packed full of tips to help make your flight enjoyable for you and your dog. www.aopa.org/members/files/topics/family_article8.html
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