Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Birds Of A Feather

Flying with your bird

If you're planning to travel with your parrot, make sure they have a suitable travel cage and always have access to water. A word of warning to anyone considering flying with their parrot—don't take off or land with your bird outside their travel cage! The relative motion of the ground freaks them out, and they'll fly down to your feet and, of course, the rudder pedals. Then the only decision is whether to squash the parrot or fly the airplane. I know at least one person who had a prop strike while taxiing because their African grey did just that! Place your parrot back in their cage before you get to your destination (do this well before entering the traffic pattern)! Don't take them out after takeoff, until you're well trimmed or on autopilot at altitude and have everything in order. If they get noisy because they want "out," then cover their cage.

Parrots are great travelers, but you should only consider traveling with them in the U.S. due to strict CITES regulations. I can take Buddha into Canada but can't bring him back into the U.S. without special documentation and only through a USFS-designated entry port. I've heard stories of people driving motor homes into Canada with their parrot, finding out later they have to drive thousands of miles out of their way to get their birds back into the U.S. through one of these ports of entry!

Buddha, who is now almost 13 years old, is well known on the air-show circuit. Often, when I get a request to fly a show, the organizers ask if I'm going to bring him with me. He can be quite amusing in the air-show briefing, too! During the show, he sits in my car, keeps me company and looks out the window. He loves watching everything, and people are fascinated by him, especially kids. I have to be careful because he can bite, but he always recognizes a "bird person" by the way they talk to him, put their hand under him to pick him up, or put him on their shoulder. He's also fun to bring to schools or when I'm giving a talk to a group, and is a great conversation starter!

They say you never own a parrot, they only grace you with their presence. After all, they'll never be a domesticated creature like a dog or a cat. No matter how exasperated I get with Buddha and his demands, I smile because I know how lucky I am to be graced by his trust and his presence.

Pilots have an affinity for flying things. People certainly resemble their dogs. Do we resemble the birds we're drawn to? Parrots generally fly because they're on a mission to get food or get to their nests, which is sort of how I fly, always on a mission. Harriers and hawks hover, crows and ravens wheel and soar, a predator is always looking for prey. Some birds migrate long distances across water, some love to glide…which one are you? Let me know at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it !


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