August 11, 2004

Landing a Plane in a Pinch - What Would You Do?

pinch.jpgHave you ever wondered what would happen if you were flying and the pilot became incapacitated? In the legendary movie Airplane all the pilots pass out from food poisoning and a washed-up war pilot needs to save the day ("I think you ought to know what our chances are. The life of everyone on board depends on one thing: finding someone on board who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner."). I always wondered would I be able to help out in a pinch like this? Now that I have my license I am sure I could probably be of assistance.

I just read an incredible story of a passenger landing a Piper Malibu after the pilot, her father, was incapacitated from carbon monoxide. While her mother tended to her father, she used the radio to ask for help landing the plane. The air traffic controllers were able to help familiarize her with the flight controls and help her land the plane safely. She had only limited flying experience prior to this event.

The Aircraft Owners and Pilot's Association offers a great program that can help make more near disasters turn out as positively as this one. They call their program the Pinch Hitter Program. AOPA's website describes the program as follows; "The AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Pinch-Hitter® Seminar was developed to assist flying companions in understanding and participating in the flight. Pinch-Hitters are pilot companions who want to know more about flying and learn how to control and land an airplane."

AOPA is offering such a course this fall in a nearby city. I might see if my wife would be interested in taking the class. Not only would she learn what to do in an emergency,but she would learn how the instruments and navigational tools work allowing her to help in the cockpit management.

Posted by at August 11, 2004 9:16 PM

Sounds like a very wise decision for an independent pilot like yourself. You'll have to let your wife post an account of her experience if she goes through the course.

Posted by: Aaron at August 11, 2004 11:23 PM