Here's my typical briefing. It's a little lengthy, but I prefer to be thorough.
"Welcome aboard PJ-Air. I'm PJ, and I'll be your Captain for this journey. On today's flight we will be cruising at an altitude of about 2000' at a speed of about 100 kts. We will be departing to the south, then making a left turn to the northeast, and we will intercept I-10 and follow it along the north side of downtown, then out to the San Jacinto monument. We will circle the monument, then follow I-10 back through the city until ATC lets us turn south to return to the airport. Visibility is good for this flight, but winds are a bit gusty, so it may be a bit bumpy while we're up there.
"By law, I am required to show you that to fasten your seat belts, you insert the metal end into the buckle, and you clip the shoulder harness on like so. Unclip the shoulder harness and lift the flap to release. Seatbelts are legally required to be worn at all times during taxi, takeoff, and landing, but I personally require them to be worn at all times during flight. To close your door, make sure it latches, then push the handle fully forward to lock it. To open, simply pull the handle all the way back until the door releases. The door should remain closed at all times while the engine is running, with the exception of an emergency when I will instruct you to open it immediately prior to landing.
"I will be handling the radio at all times during this flight. Our call-sign is Skyhawk 1629Echo, so if you hear that, I need you to stay quiet for a second so that I can talk to ATC. We will be using the headsets to communicate with each other, and you'll have to keep the mic close to your mouth so that I can hear you. The rule of thumb is that if you can't hear yourself in your headset, then I can't hear you either. Also, once we level off, I may offer you the chance to take the controls for a little bit. When we transfer control of the airplane, we will use a three-step verbal confirmation, where I may say, 'your controls.' You respond with, 'my controls.' I will then confirm by saying, 'your controls' again and looking to make sure your hands are on the controls before I release them. This ensures that we know who is flying the plane at all times. We will repeat the process when handing the controls back over.
"Now, your primary job on this flight is to help me keep an eye out for other airplanes. We will be talking to ATC during this flight, so they should help too by pointing out where they are, but we need to be vigilant as well. When it comes to traffic, we will say where they are by an o'clock reference. Twelve o'clock is directly in front, three o'clock is off our right wing, six o'clock is directly behind us, and nine o'clock is off our left wing. We will also say high or low, depending on if they are above or below us.
"Lastly - taxi, takeoff, and landing are what we call 'critical phases of flight' and they require a lot of concentration on my part. Therefore, we will be using a 'sterile cockpit' rule during those times, meaning that any conversation must pertain to the continued safe operation of the aircraft. Anything else will have to wait. I'll let you know when the sterile cockpit is in effect and when it's okay to talk again. Any questions? Let's fly!"
Another thing that I may do during a flight is have the person in the right seat read off the checklists for me, and organize my charts.
PPL ASEL as of 8/15/2007
"Flying is a lot like riding a bicycle, it's just a lot harder to put baseball cards in the spokes!" -Captain Rex Kramer, from the movie "Airplane!"