Looking for advice on spreading ashes, my neighbor,very decent man and fellow aviator passed away recently and his family asked my father at the memorial if we could spread his ashes on the hill at his farm next door which we said we would. I want to do it in a decent and dignified way i.e. not bollox it up, and have read the best way is to get a long tube like the ones architects use for carry blueprints and pour it down that which lowers the release point and prevents any hard parts hitting the tail and prevents blowback. As his daughter is going to be the one doing it. I would appreciate advice from anyone who has experience.
I have never dispensed ashes, though I have other "things". It sounds like you're one the right track. I would do what you are doing, however, I would fly and test first with innocent powder. If his daughter is going to do it, I suggest she be included in your practice flight, so she can also feel confident and prepared at a stressful time.
A friend of mine had his father's ashes scattered from a Piper Arrow many years ago. It has the potential to be very, very messy. Basically they placed the ashes in a plastic bag, and inserted a length of tube from an old vacuum cleaner into the bag. Sealed the neck with tape. Opened door in flight. Put tube hopefully into a lower pressure area - ashes sucked out of the bag.
'Dry' run essential. I suspect permission needed from CAA too (stuff being dropped from aircraft, etc. - Rule ? of the Rules of the Air!)
From what I hear from people who have actually done it, the biggest issue is that the pressure in the cockpit (in most planes) is slightly below the ambient, so anything released outside gets rapidly blown back inside.
I would think the same would happen if you used a tube. No matter how long the tube is, air will flow through it back into the cockpit, unless it is inclined so as to create a vacuum.
One operation which did this "professionally" put the ashes in an externally mounted box, with a trapdoor which was released from inside the cockpit.
The other thing to consider is that cremated ashes (I have seen them close-up) can contain some big pieces; not just bone (I gather the "assistant" sometimes has to break up big bones with a hammer) but things like big metal trouser belt buckles. That's assuming the deceased did not have any surgical stuff inserted... Releasing this stuff into a 100kt+ slipstream could do a lot of damage to the elevator, whose skin is normally very thin...
Last time I put a link to EuroGA on Flyer, the mods there deleted it really fast It was a link to the VFR Europe presentation, under Articles. They allowed it back when somebody else replaced the link with a direct link to the actual PDFs i.e. such that people could download them without seeing our forum first. I found it slightly funny...
Never done it myself, but I would start with a long hose that extends way backwards, so that the slipstream sucks it out.
The other thing I've heard is to fly the aircraft at the release moment with a bit of sideslip so that whatever blows out of the tube, blows away from the aircraft.
Safest method, but not very dignified, would be to put the ashes in a paper bag, and tape a piece of string to the paper bag so that if you pull the string, the bag rips completely. Tie one end of the string to the plane, throw the paper bag overboard. But be careful that the string doesn't jam the elevator.
A few trial runs would well be advised, I'd say.
Oh, and you require permission from the CAA for this, but I've heard that getting this permission is free, for a change.
Unfortunately, I have recent experience with human ashes. First off, these a are not 'ashes' at all, but rather resemble sand. Think sand from a beach with lots of ground-up shells of mussels etc interspersed. Small amount of powdery material. Secondly, at least in the UK, there will be no big pieces, as metallic objects are removed before cremation. There's nothing to fear for the a/c.
I have also heard about the tube method - in theory, this should work, as the air flowing over the opening of the tube (outside the a/c) will create a low pressure, sucking the ashes out. However, I venture to say that the angle at which the tube is being held is crucial here.
Trial run definitely in order, but make sure you don't use real (fire) ashes or powder, rather fine sand.
Having recently - sadly - scattered ashes, I can tell you that these aerialtribute guys are either shysters or cremation is done very differently in the US. No way ashes will drift upward, only a very, very small portion (the powdery stuff I wrote about earlier) will. The rest will follow gravity.....
This talk of tubes sticking out of the aircraft, reminded me of a video I saw where a pilot used this trick to "suck" flies out of the cockpit.
I mean no disrespect to the deceased by posting this, just thought it might help to show the general principal of what's being discussed.
[Youtube line to the video](