On a crisp, clear morning I lined-up and rolled on a “milk run” flight which I have done hundreds of times.
The single engine roars to full power and I swiftly accelerate down the runway. Gracefully the plane soars into the sky, content I raise the gears and hear them clank into pace and without any warning it goes very quiet.
The sound a dead donk makes is deafening, in actual fact it is so loud that it almost paralyzes you. The aircraft is going down and there is nothing I can do to prevent it, the only thing to do is make sure that I will walk away from it.
Gear down, flaps down and CRASH!
The term “swimming in glue” is often used to describe the overwhelming feeling of disbelief and shock when you have an engine failure. Studies have shown that it can take up to 7 seconds for the mind to process the event and then respond to it. That might be 7 seconds you don’t have or 7 seconds you need to use to find some sort of place to land.
When you did your training with an instructor next to you, you can run these engine failure drills easily and confidently but it is a whole different world in real life. There are some lessons I have learned from this event and it will hopefully help me to walk away from a future engine failure after take-off.
It can happen to YOU!
Same as in a car accidents, its normal for us to believe that it only happens to other people. Once this has happened to you that false sense of security is shattered into a million pieces. In actual fact that ridiculous belief is so pulverized that when I fly now I sit and wait for it to happen, not because I’m nervous or scared but because I am fully prepared. There is no reason in the world that once it’s happened to you it will never happen again, so I’m ready.
Before I enter a runway now I have a very clear and concise safety brief in my head. It does not matter to me in how much of a hurry I am or the guy behind me. That minute I spend to run through my brief might be the most important minute of my life so I make it count.
The gear-up decision point plays a much bigger role for me now. When there is absolutely no more runway to land the gear goes up. This is important cause if the engine fails you don’t have to struggle with a decision if you can land back on the runway. You have already made that decision, so focus on where you are going to land. That tiny bit of time you safe might be all you need to safe your life and it frees your mind to deal with the next issue.
Those 3 lessons was learned the hard way, make sure you don’t have to learn them in the same fashion.
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