How Not to Crash an Airplane. When you enter flight school and start to anticipate those hands on flight lessons, that’s really the exciting part of the program. We all know that the classroom learning and the technical knowledge are important. You really cannot expect to be a pilot without knowledge of aerodynamics and the technical theory about aircraft and how they work both in flight and during take off and landing.
But it is when you get in the pilots seat and take the controls of an airplane that things get exciting. The FAA requires that you get 40-50 hours of airtime actually flying an airplane and getting in flight instruction from a certified pilot before you are qualified to test for a pilot’s license. This makes sense. After all, flying an airplane is a mechanical and physical skill. Along with the knowledge of how to read the instruments, how the plane works and the relationship between the craft and the atmosphere, there is a certain amount of “seat of the pants” knowledge that can only come from handling an airplane up in the air, where you wanted to be all along.
There are a lot of aspects to flying to cover during your time in the air with your instructor. The take off takes some getting used to and you have to learn to carry this part of the flight off safely and in cooperation with the tower and other aircraft in the area. When in the air, finding your altitude and dealing with different situations that come up while flying can really only be taught when they happen. And landing the airplane is an area of particular focus because that is where there is the biggest potential for error which can be catastrophic.
One area of flying that must be part of your training that maybe wasn’t part of your thoughts when you daydreamed of becoming a pilot is disaster recovery. You know that when you drive a car, there are dozens of “situations” you might get into that require that you make corrections or have the wherewithal to handle a crisis situation and get through it with as little damage and injury as possible. While flying an airplane does not put you in the same kind proximity of other aircraft as driving does, you have more dimensions to flying (up and down) as well as wind, weather and airborne hazards to be concerned with. In addition you may face equipment malfunction while in the air and you must have some knowledge and experience in how to handle this kind of crisis to get through it alive.
If your flight training doesn’t include crisis training, you should get it at all costs before you even consider taking other people up in your airplane and you are responsible for their lives. You should have an instructor who will intentionally cut the engines and teach you how to handle the aircraft without the aid of power and to glide it safely to the ground. You should also get what they call “spin” training which is what you will need if you suddenly find the aircraft spiraling to the ground “spinning” while you frantically try to figure out how to pull out and save your life and the airplane as well.
This part of your training will be a bit frightening. But your instructor will be able to put you into the situations you need to understand and talk you through them so you have the knowledge you need to recover from disasters if they happen to you while flying. You will be glad you are prepared even if you never experience problems flying and it will give you self confidence to know that you were taught how to respond to crisis rather than having to figure it out when it happens.