How to Get your Wife to Fly with You – Part 2

Aircraft designed with women in mind

COPA, the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association, organises several events each year where Cirrus pilots meet each other, receive (flight) training and are updated with the latest news. Recently I joined my husband to the  beautiful island Bornholm in Denmark for one of these COPA meetings. There were Cirrus pilots flying in from all over Europe, with even some flying in from Barcelona, Spain. It is one of those aviation events where I get to meet other women who also regularly fly with their partner.


Enroute in Cirrus to Bornholm, Denmark

Cirrus Aircraft CEO Dale Klapmeier

Cirrus Aircraft, based in Duluth Minnesota, builds aircraft with unique features. Cirrus aircraft are equipped with a 2-stage solid rocket parachute system called CAPS. Pulling a handle, the rocket is initiated and a few seconds later the whole aircraft is brought down below a parachute. You probably understand that this feature alone gives women extra peace of mind while their husband is flying or while flying along with him.

During dinner on the last evening in Bornholm, Mr Dale Klapmeier, CEO of Cirrus Aircraft, entertained us all with his story about how he longed for his wife to fly with him and that for that reason alone he made some design changes in the aircraft. He wanted his wife to feel more at home and to really enjoy their family trips together. The changes he made sounded all very logical to me and all the non-flying women present in the room there that night. I could identify myself with his story. Really!


Dale Klapmeier speeching in Bornholm, Denmark

Light and Horizon

Aircraft side and front windows are often rather small. Especially sitting in the back, it can be hard to have a good look outside to the front. Mr. Klapmeier’s wife did not like to sit in the back for this reason. She felt it was too dark back there. So, Dale introduced a roof window in his aircraft, which roof window you still find today in the Cirrus SR20 and SR22 aircraft his company sells. By placing an extra window in the roof, light falls down from outside into the backside of the airplane, making sitting in the back more comfortable. Klapmeier also placed the backseats in his aircraft higher and included larger windows. Now his wife and other passengers could look outside and clearly see the horizon. Being able to now see the horizon helped his wife feel more comfortable and also eliminated most of the motion sickness issues with passengers flying along.

Where are we now? Where are we going?

Pilots know precisely what the expected time of arrival will be (or at least they pretend to know), how much fuel is still on board and how much fuel will remain in the tanks on arrival as reserve fuel. These are things that every passenger wants to know as well! Dale Klapmeier’s wife always started asking questions already right after takeoff “Dale, where are we?” or “Dale, how much fuel do we have left. Are we going to make it?” He realised that he needed to create a way to inform his wife. He initially installed a screen in the aircraft in front of the right-hand passenger seat. On that screen, he would provide a line showing the route, where they were at the moment (aircraft symbol) and where they were going. He also showed numbers on the same screen giving information on the amount of fuel on board and left as reserve when arriving at the destination. Dale installed a display like this on his Cirrus aircraft long before full glass cockpits were introduced.


The Multi-Function-Display (MFD) showing the route and FOD (fuel on destination): 20 USGallon.

He did so initially to please his wife and inform her better on the essential issues: where are we, where are we going, when are we arriving and how much fuel do we have left and it that enough to make it! His wife wanted to know and feel more in control. I can fully identify with her on this issue. You get it: give me and my passengers better insight into what is going on and we will enjoy flight even more.


Travelling back from Bornholm together.

Parachute system

OK. I mentioned it already above: the parachute! This is for me a great option. I understood from what Dale Klapmeier told us that evening that it was not a system easily designed, but I am so glad to be flying in an aircraft with such a parachute on board.


Cirrus parachute system (CAPS).

The speech of Mr. Klepmeier gave me peace of mind: my experience and anxieties were not unique, but universal, that is, by looking at how the other women in the room responded to his story. I am not exceptional in this sense! And to pilots that would like to travel with their wife, I would like to say: look at the flight from her perspective and make it as comfortable as possible for her. It really pays off.

Continue reading: Part 3.

– Saskia ter Welle
My personal blog: