Aerial Goodbye: Spreading Ashes by Airplane

Ney cockpit (Large)

My dad’s final resting place turns out to be a few different places.  My sister Susan took care of one place, while another is the forest behind my house, via airplane.  Still another for a small bit of him is the carpet under the pilot’s seat.  A bit of him came back in the plane with the shower curtain and I decided it is fitting, he being a Navy pilot and all, that he should ride around with me from now on.

Spreading ashes from an airplane isn’t as trivial as you may think.  Simply dumping the ashes out the window results in most of the ashes blowing back in and swirling around in the plane – and there are more than a few stories out there of airplanes, pilots and passengers covered in ashes.

Thus there are many recipes out there for how best to accomplish this.  The top three seem to be:

  1. Stick a PVC pipe out the window into the airstream.  This creates suction and then you can pour the ashes into the open end in the cockpit.  This still sounds like it could be messy.
  2. Put the ashes in a paper bag and tie it shut with string, then wrap the string around the bag.  Toss the bag out the window and theoretically when it gets to the end of the string the bag will break and scatter the ashes.
  3. Use a strip of shower curtain.  Lay it out on the ground and pour the ashes in the of the first 1/3 of the length.  Fold the shower curtain over the ashes in thirds, then roll it up.  Make a good handle at the end so you can easily hang on when you let the main bundle go.  When you let it go, it unrolls and when it gets to the last 1/3 the ashes fly out.

I chose the shower curtain method and it worked wonderfully, although as I mentioned above a few bits were still caught in the plastic.  Still, I was alone and it was very easy to do, even flying pretty low so I would have some confidence he would end up where I would prefer him to end up.



2 thoughts on “Aerial Goodbye: Spreading Ashes by Airplane

  1. Loren Gallagher April, 2018 — 9:02 pm

    Thank you for sharing such a special and private moment. May your father RIP



  2. Well told, Ney. My condolences on your fathers passing. It sounds like his final resting place(s) are well earned and would make him overwhelmingly

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