Flying GA Aircraft with a Baby...


Well-Known Member
Hi there,

I am looking at taking my 15 month old up on her first plane trip with Daddy in a C172.

I'd appreciate any advice from those that fly with their family... ie: What's the best way to get them accustomed to headsets? Should Mom sit in the backseat with them?

We will only be going on a short flight @ 30 mins just to test the waters. Let me know how your experiences with your children went.


I would personally say 15 months is a little young; the last thing you want is the baby crying and distracting you (even if your wife is there you will be concerned). A C-172 is not the most comfortable ride, and awfully noisey as there are not headsets that accomodate 15 month old babies so crying is almost certain. Also how would your restrain him/her? We all know Cessna's are more subseptable to turbulance then airliners, and with the seat belt design on them I am not sure they would accomodate a car seat.

I think it would be wise to wait for a couple years, not only for safety but so they can actually enjoy it too.
Don't listen to anything Ian said. I have taken both of my kids flying. My son flew in our C170 for the first time around 2 years old and I still have to pry him off the plane to go home. He'd sit in the plane with his "ears" (Full size DC10-30s) on for :30 minutes waiting to go. By 3 years old he was wanting to solo. My daughter on the other hand got her first plane ride in a nice comfy, brand new Citation Excel around 18 months......and she screamed her head off (not the good way) from takeoff until landing :) 10minutes). Go figure.

Just make sure you have a car seat "approved" for aircraft and follow the seat manufacturer's recommendation on seat location and installation. As far as headsets, pick up a set of hearing protectors from a sporting goods store. Like the kind used for sport shooting, they will fit a bit smaller than intercom headsets. I don't imagine your child will have much to say anyway, right?

Plan on making short trip the first time. Maybe one or two laps around the pattern. It will take a while to get :30 minutes out of her.

For the record. My son road in the back seat of the 170 alone with no problem. He also accompanied my daughter and wife in the Excel and he loved it too. And no, he wasn't in the right front seat. Much to his disappointment.

Good luck, let us know what you decide.
NJA Capt

Oh yea...Seat belts were neither a problem in our 1951 C170 nor the 2002 Citation Excel. Both worked well with each car seat.
Yeah, you shouldn't have any problem with an approved seat. Either that or have your wife in the back too. I've had people take kids that age on sightseeing rides before with no problem whatsoever.
I think it would be best to have your wife in the back just in case the little one needs anything. The car seat should fit no problem and you definitely should use an approved car seat. My kids fall asleep every time we go up. I used call the plane the napping machine but now they don't want to fly anymore because they think I am just trying to get them to take a nap! I would put them in the back seat and they usually would be out before I began the take off roll. Definitely choose a calm day for the first flight. Best of luck.
What is a car seat "approved" for airplanes? I didn't know those existed. Are they any different then general car seats? Not that I have a wee one yet, but someday in the future.
Make you descents as smooth and gradual as possible. I immagine popping ears could be quite painfull and frigtening for a baby.
What is a car seat "approved" for airplanes? I didn't know those existed. Are they any different then general car seats? Not that I have a wee one yet, but someday in the future.

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Look on the back/underside of the car seat. You'll see a sticker that says 'approved for use in automobiles and aircraft'. Basically any modern car seat will be aircraft approved. If you're getting a hand-me-down take a close look at it, especially if it has an old 3-point harness as opposed to the newer 5-point ones.

Also about the descent, give the tyke a pacifier or bottle or something to suck on, it'll help the ears.
I took my son for his first flight when he was approx 3 months old and had no problem whatsoever. We just put his car seat in the airplane and my wife sat in the back with him. Shorlty after takeoff until cruise and then again from top of descent until just before landing, she fed him so that he would not get any discomfort from the change in pressure. He never cried once. The first time he flew we put little cotton balls in his ears and covered his ears with a hat to reduce the noise. This second trip we just put a had on him that covered his ears. He didn't seem to mind in the slightest.

The flight was in a Baron, and it lasted 3.5 hours. We returned 2 weeks later, again no problem. We flew again yesterday (same trip) and again, had no problem. He is 6 months old now. I had him sit on my lap during the cruise for a few minutes and he was fascinated with all the buttons and dials. He even grabbed the control yoke! His favorite was the GPS antenna wire though. He found that and it went straight into his mouth.

I made my climbs and descents 500fpm or less, and that, along with the sucking during climb and descent prevented any ear discomfort.

It is very likely different with different babies. Best I can suggest is to try it and see how it works for you!!

I made my climbs and descents 500fpm or less, and that, along with the sucking during climb and descent prevented any ear discomfort.

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Yeah.. but, what about the baby???


Here all week.
I took my daughter at 3 weeks and she did fine. Try to climb descend at about 300 fpm. Babies have no clue how to clear their ears. I tried puting hearing protection on her and she didn't like it, so I just fly at a lower rpm to reduce the noise. My girlfriend was in the back seat with her the first time and after that I let her go by herself. If you start them early they won't be scared of it later in life.
Raymond went for his first flight tonight ... flight-time defined as: "Pilot time that commences when an aircraft moves under its own power for the purpose of flight..."

Never took off. Not baby-related, in fact he slept through the entire non-event. Runway and taxiway lights would not activate. We were slow getting to the airport because we were hoping to go while there was still a little bit of light. But we were still going to go up.

I knew I had the correct frequency and something was working as the lights/strobes for the ILS was working in accordance to the number of times I keyed the mic, but no taxiway and runway lights, and with the baby in the aircraft was not the time to conduct a flight with added challenges ... so perhaps another time.

I tried to key the lights several times ... ramp, taxiway during runup, on runway ... but nothing so we rolled up to the next taxiway, turned off and parked.

Before I shut down, Amy tried to wake him up to see how he would deal with the noise (we did have a makeshift headset for him), but he wouldn't wake, so we're not quite sure if he's a born flier or we were lucky.

Amy said she prayed to God to protect us and give us a sign if we shouldn't go ... perhaps the lights not working was a sign not to go.

We will get him up at some point ... no rush.