Teachable Moments in Aircraft Emergencies

photo by NASA

photo by NASA

Flying Lessons: How to Appear Calm While Crashing a Small Plane

(Read the full essay in the Nashville Scene.)

A million lights webbed over black earth as we radioed Nashville approach and explained our predicament. The controller’s tinny voice crackled across the night sky as our little Apache airplane thrummed toward Nashville International Airport.

“Roger,” he said coolly. “Expect runway two-zero center.”

My flight instructor Volker and I exchanged a glance. Shouldn’t the controller have said something, I don’t know, comforting?

“You do understand,” reiterated Volker, “we’re coming in with a broken nosewheel.”

“Affirmative,” said the controller. “We’ll have equipment ready.”

Most aircraft incidents that make the evening news are fast-moving, catastrophic and often caused by pilot error. The one that befell the small twin-engine airplane we were flying that fall evening 18 years ago was none of these…

Did we survive?!? Read on to find out…

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