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#158 Shoes

Lately, this seems to have come up.  Actually, the issue of what shoes to wear while flying has popped up on a fairly regular basis.


Janet and ….

I will simply repeat what I have always said about this subject:  When it comes to deciding what to wear on your feet while flying, simply wear what you would choose to wear if you crawl out of the wreckage and have to walk to the nearest help.

I have known some pilots who prefer to fly barefoot.  Since I tend to be a feminist, I’m very thankful that one of those is a male!  Whew!


…Janet’s flying shoes.

One of my pals removes her shoes before she climbs into the plane.  I’ve often snickered at the picture after she taxies in, shuts down, opens the door and pitches her sneakers out for later donning.  She is just one flier who likes to aviate while shoeless.  Another is a famous airshow pilot.

In my opinion (what in my writings ISN’T my opinion?), such lack of footwear is nuts.  After all, our military pilots may be the best example of what I think proper flight-wear is.  The military pilot wears a Nomex flight suit so that if the thing catches on fire, he’ll be fire-resistant.  He wears boots, so that he can walk out, no matter what the terrain.  He also wears flotation, as well as a vest containing survival equipment.

A treatise about this subject wouldn’t be complete without an argument from the other side.  The reason given for shoeless flight is usually the same.  The shoeless fliers claim that their feet are then more sensitive to rudder pedals and brake.  Although they may be right, I don’t think they are right enough to cancel the lack of safety.  So I usually say to them, “Get over it”.

A guy came to me from Idaho to learn the finer points of wheel landings.  He wore a “Spot” around his neck as well as a converted fishing vest with survival items in it. His point was very well-taken.  If he went down and managed to get clear of the wreckage, he wouldn’t be dependent on a survival kit in the baggage compartment out of reach.  He’d for sure end up with his spot and whatever else he carried in his modified fishing vest, including matches, space blanket, water and snacks.  Good thinking, if you ask me.  You did ask me, didn’t you?  Oh, you didn’t?  Oops… I’ll just skulk out of here, put my sneakers on and fly away.

7 comments to #158 Shoes

  • Paul Railsback


    Your article on shoes is well taken. I ground looped my Husky one time (no damage), and my story, which I am sticking to, is that I was wearing thick sole hiking boots. My left foot was inadvertently on the metal tubing strut next to the rudder so I was not getting any rudder input. I swore that I would only fly in ballet slippers after that.


    • brian

      Paul’s comment reminds me of an old routine by Stan Freberg when he interviewed the Abominable Snowman. The snowman, in referring to his bright orange sneakers, asked, “Did you ever try to walk through the snow in ballet slippers?”

      I enjoyed Paul’s reply, but I’ll stick to my original contention!

  • Mike


    The fellow from Idaho is on the right track. Having spent a number of years in some of the worlds more unsavory airspace, in case of an unscheduled “landing” another of my rules comes to mind: “If you ain’t wearing it, you ain’t taken it!”

    Never pass up gas or porcelain!

  • Mike

    Too kind Brian, too kind! I just try to get a nice tan from the brightness of others….

    “If you’re going to the airport, go to the f$&@ing airport!”
    “Swoop, sink, plant” (although not as effective in a nose dragger) Don’t ask

    And if you used to fly Blackhawks, the goal in an airplane is like a “shallow approach to a roll-on” not a “steep approach to a bounce on”!

    Never pass up gas or porcelain!

  • TAA

    Agree with you 100 percent. In fact in the winter when I have to switch to bunny boots because my heavy hikers no longer are warm enough, I walk around and drive with the darn awkward things for a whole week before getting in my bird so I “feel” the change and know the difference.
    Wanna keep my toes in case I gotta walk out in February!!!!
    Blue skies!!!! TAA

    • brian

      TAA has a special place in the heart of the old Blind Squirrel. This Alaska pilot is a previous winner of a Ladies Love Taildraggers Master Class Scholarship.

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