You are probably reading this because you are a pilot who has been asked to scatter ashes for a friend or relative, or you have lost someone and you are about to ask a friend or relative pilot to scatter ashes for you. I understand you desire to do this. But let me caution you it is not easy and you could end up having a story to tell that is memorable, but not in a good way.
I have been professionally scattering ashes as a licensed cremated remains disposer in California for 12 years. I can tell you I have heard it all. When I tell other pilots what I do, I hear many stories of how pilots have tried it, and it didn’t go well. I have heard very few success stories of amateur scattering of ashes by airplane. Most stories end with the pilot and passengers wearing the ashes, and or damage to their airplanes. It doesn’t have to be this way. I can help.
The first thing you have to realize when researching how to scatter ashes by airplane is that there are many laws regarding this, and they vary from state to state. Please make sure you understand the laws, and that you are not violating them by doing this. Agencies that you may need to check with include, but not limited to the EPA, the FAA, your state or County Health Department, Your local city, county and state probably have there own laws about where ashes can be scattered, if it all. Please check first. For example, here in California it is illegal to scatter cremated remains without a proper burial permit stating where you are going to scatter the cremated remains. Also, you are required to have written permission from the landowner or governing agency if you are going to scatter over land.
The second thing you need to realize when scatter ashes by airplane is that you need to practice. Don’t go up one time with the cremated remains and think you are going to open the door and scatter the ashes. I guarantee, it will go badly.
The way the air swirls around an airplane in flight usually means that the cremated remains are not just going to leave the plane, and descend to the ground. It usually means that without the proper equipment, they will be blown back into the cockpit, or it the fuselage, the horizontal stabilizer or the vertical stabilizer (the tail).
Cremated remains are usually very course. Usually, they can range in size from sand particles to the size of Grapenuts. I have seen them as large as the size of playground bark. When these particles hit your plane’s fuselage at 100+ miles per hour you can strip paint off your airplane or worse, get pieces caught in the control surfaces. This is especially bad if you are using a rental plane to scatter the ashes.
When scattering ashes by airplane, I use a device that I patented. I use it with my Cessna 182 and have adapted a variation that works with the Piper Aztec our company uses. It can be used in most high wing Cessnas without any sort of alteration to the plane. It is safe and legal.
For years I have received requests from pilots asking me how to scatter ashes from an airplane. I have turned down their requests because I have been concerned about liability. I also don’t want to create competition for my scattering services that are based in Southern California. However, There are too many stories on the internet now of things going poorly, I have decided I need to address help these pilots who want to scatter ashes by airplane of their loved one or friend.
I have a one-time scattering consultation package. It is designed for the pilot who wants to scatter one-time for their friend or relative. With this consultation, I do all the legwork; researching the laws in your state, obtain all the permit, and file all the paperwork with the proper agencies when we are done. I do everything just as though I am doing the scattering, but I explain to you how to do the scattering over the phone in a 30-minute consultation. The fee for this is $595. You will be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement, and a non-competition agreement.
For pilots looking to start a business scattering cremated remains, I have a business consultation service as well. It is for pilots outside of my service area of Southern California. I will teach you everything I have learned, and help you with the laws of your area. Please call me if you would like to discuss it further.
I hope I have been helpful with how to scatter ashes by airplane. Please know that this is a very sensitive matter. If you are attempting to scatter ashes by airplane for a friend or relative, it needs to be done correctly, legally, and safely, so that this memory is a good one for all involved.