Funerals by Sea…and Air?
Funerals by sea are fairly common in this day and age. While your opportunities to send a body out to sea with a Viking funeral pyre or with a military farewell are not always possible, you can scatter ashes into the ocean (or lake) or opt to have cremated remains encased in a coral reef.
If your loved one enjoyed air travel more than water travel, there may be additional options available to you. Although you cannot drop an entire body from a plane (nor would you probably want to), there are several different ways you can scatter ashes from a private airplane.
Specialty Providers: There are some companies that will scatter ashes from a plane for you. If you are less concerned about the exact location (or who is doing the scattering) and simply want to make sure your loved one gets an appropriate airborne farewell, then you can hire a specialty company to take the ashes up and dispose of them properly.
Traditional Passenger Planes: You cannot scatter ashes from a commercial flight, but you can take a loved one’s cremated remains up with you for a final ride. As long as you have the appropriate packaging, most cremation urns can be brought as carry-on luggage so your loved one can ride next to you.
Contracted Flights: Smaller airplanes (the kind that are flown by individual pilots and used for things like skydiving) are the most ideal choice for this sort of tribute. Because the planes are smaller, you can open the doors to release the ashes in the air, and you can work with the pilot to choose an ideal location.
Of course, that does not always mean this option is easy, especially since you will need to avoid the blowback of ashes into the plane. If you have not scattered ashes from a private plane before, you will need to consider:
- Whether or not it is legal in your area to disperse ashes by air.
- How to remove the larger bone fragments that won’t easily scatter.
- Methods for avoiding the wind blowing the ashes back into the plane (it is best to buy a specialty device that will allow you to either “parachute” the ashes to the ground or to scatter through a vent).
Skydiving: One way to avoid blowback into the plane is to actually skydive with the ashes in hand. While you will want to either be a professional skydiver or have one accompany you, this can be a thrilling way to say goodbye to a loved one.
Scattering ashes from an airplane is not one of the most common ways to dispose of a loved one—and it is not without challenges—but many families find it rewarding to work through the logistics to make it happen.