Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Emergency Landing Procedures....No Thanks!
Wow! I had a flight lesson the other day that really tested my "how do you react in a panic" brain cells. I was up flying around practicing S-turns and turns around a fixed point, feeling pretty good about the progress I have made since my first flight.
Then my instructor reaches for the throttle and pulls it back to idle while at 2500 feet and says "OK, you just lost engine power...what are you going to do now?" My response was "you mean after I finish [performing a bodily function] (paraphrased)???" I was simply terrified!
But then we walked through the mechanics of focusing on getting the plane to its best glide speed (yes, fixed wing aircraft can stay in the air as long as you don't screw it up), then looking for a place to land, trying to restart the engine, and finally communicating the emergency to others. After doing that a few times, I didn't panic anymore. I wonder if anyone on the ground while I practiced this stuff was a bit curious! But who knows how you'll react when it happens for real and you're either alone, or you have a passenger.
Good practice; and it got me thinking about how you always have to be thinking of contingencies and how you will react when things don't go the way you planned. Better to work through your possible options when you're not paniced, so maybe it becomes "muscle memory". I think we all saw the miracle of that US Airways pilot that put the plane down safely in the Hudson. Very impressive!