It’s one of those things that many people overlook, appropriate footwear for flying. It’s common for pilots to be prepared with survival kits if flying over barren areas or with jackets, hats and gloves when flying during the winter, but one thing that is often overlooked is appropriate footwear. And it isn’t one-size-fits-all…When flying as a PIC, Passenger In Coach that is, I always ensure that I’m wearing lace up shoes with good soles. Why you ask? Well that’s simple, let’s say something goes awry, the ability to move on your feet is paramount and without appropriate footwear you’ll be slowed down at the most inopportune of times. Similarly, when it is cold outside at my departure or destination, I will wear footwear that provide good insulation.
Flying as the other type of PIC, Pilot In Command, I also ensure that appropriate footwear is on hand, or feet I should say. Again, I prefer shoes that lace up, during the summer that typically means running shoes/ sneakers and during cooler seasons, especially when I was flying in New England a great deal I preferred hiking boots. Not only are hiking boots comfortable, they provided a good sole, solid support, are waterproof and well insulated.
An off-airport landing provides enough excitement and plenty of challenges already, having the ability to get out of the aircraft following the event and finding help and safety doesn’t have to be any more of a challenge. By being well prepared, with the appropriate footwear, you can ensure you’re ready to move around and reduce the possibility of injury. Can you hike through unimproved areas in flip-flops and sandals? Sure, but why would you want to?
This concept isn’t just important for following off-airport forced landings. During cold weather, appropriate footwear with proper insulation provides protection for a pilot’s feet during preflight inspections and during other times while outside the aircraft such as the walk from the aircraft at a destination to the restaurant for the $100 hamburger.
My recommendation is to be prepared and ready for any situation you may face, including having the ability to maneuver yourself in unimproved conditions. We commonly take the ability to walk and run for granted so it is vitally important we don’t overlook an activity so important to survival.
-Fly Safe, @MTElia1B9