Real Pilot Stories

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Underwater Escape

Underwater Escape

For many pilots, the prospect of crash landing in water is one of the most terrifying things in aviation. Bryan Webster has been there, done that, and says they’re right to be afraid. Listen as he tells the tale of a wild flight that ended in the drink, and shares some of the knowledge he’s gained in 15 years of teaching water egress techniques.

Approx. 14 minutes

Ditching in the Dark

Ditching in the Dark

On the night of October 9, 2009, a Mooney pilot and his two passengers experience engine failure over the Gulf of Mexico. The pilot, realizing he won’t be able to reach land, has only one option—ditch his aircraft in the rough dark waters below. But, did he prepare adequately for a night flight over water?

Approx. 7 minutes

Topics:  Safety Spotlight, Night VFR Flight

Engine Failure in IMC

Engine Failure in IMC

When you hear the word “emergency” in an IFR context, what comes to mind? A vacuum pump failure, or perhaps an encounter with freezing rain? As pilot Robert Schapiro discovered, sick engines pay no heed to the weather. Climb in the co-pilot’s seat as an instrument proficiency flight becomes a harrowing search for a landing spot.

Approx. 9 minutes

Topics:  Safety Spotlight, IFR Flight

Trapped on Top

Trapped on Top

We tend to think of emergencies as one-at-a-time events, but as pilot Ken Lawson discovered, bad things sometimes come in pairs. Imagine yourself as a non-current instrument pilot dealing with an unexpected IFR descent—then add a failed engine to the mix. How would you cope? Listen as ATC mounts a heroic effort to get the pilot down safely.

Approx. 15 minutes

Fire in the Cockpit

Fire in the Cockpit

Ask any pilot for a list of nightmare scenarios, and this one is bound to rank pretty high. It's also extremely unlikely—but, then, statistics are cold comfort when you're trying to land an airplane with your feet on fire and a cockpit full of smoke. Ride along with flight instructor Jade Schiewe as a routine training flight becomes a desperate struggle for survival.

Approx. 7 minutes

Ambushed by Ice

Ambushed By Ice

For Dean Clark, the flight was old-hat: a familiar route, a trusted airplane, and no serious weather in the forecast. But that didn’t keep him from picking up enough ice to nearly bring down his Cessna 182. Climb in the right seat as he recounts the tale of his unexpected struggle in ice-filled clouds, and review some critical facts before venturing anywhere near ice.

Approx. 10 minutes

Bird Strike

Bird Strike

It was a nice VFR day—not a cloud in the sky—as the twin climbed out of the pattern at Casa Grande, AZ. The pilot was settling down on the last leg of a long cross-country flight from Bartow, Florida to Camarillo, California when he noticed the birds... Experience the pilot coming eye to eye with a four pound red-tailed hawk and how he dealt with the ensuing mayhem his uninvited feathered passenger caused.

Approx. 30 minutes

Topics:  Safety Spotlight, Bird Strike

Cemetary Crash

Cemetary Crash

A catastrophic engine failure near Knoxville, Tennessee.

Approx. 3 minutes

Engine Failure at Night

Engine Failure at Night

Loss of engine power over the Pennsylvania mountains at night.

Approx. 10 minutes

Topics:  Safety Spotlight, Night VFR Flight

Icing Encounter

Icing Encounter

In-flight icing encounter near Bedford, Pennsylvania.

Approx. 14 minutes

Topics:  Safety Spotlight, Cold Weather Operations

Mayday at Mt McKinley

Mayday at Mount McKinley

Imagine flying the gorgeous Alaska Mountain Range, sharing spectacular views of Denali Park with your passengers. Then, just as the stunning panorama of Mount McKinley spreads out before your eyes, something goes terribly wrong with the airplane—the aircraft becomes uncontrollable at 11,000 feet. Learn how the pilot managed the almost impossible task of flying his aircraft and watch actual footage of the developing dilemma.

Approx. 9 minutes

Mountain Crash

Mountain Crash

Density altitude accident in Bonners Ferry, Idaho.

Approx. 3 minutes

Pinch Hitting a King Air

Pinch Hitting a King Air

Imagine being forced to take over the flight controls of a Beechcraft King Air 200 if you’d never flown anything larger than a Cessna 172.

Approx. 30 minutes

Power Loss on Takeoff

Power Loss on Takeoff

When the engine quits at 200 feet, there’s not much time to decide.

Approx. 5 minutes

Prop Attack

Prop Attack!

A hand-propping accident near Swansboro, North Carolina.

Approx. 3 minutes

Snake on a Plane

Snake on a Plane

In-flight distraction near Gallipolis, Ohio.

Approx. 3 minutes

The Impossible Turn

The Impossible Turn

Dave Keller needed to land immediately—but rather than landing straight ahead or off to the side, he chose to execute the “Impossible Turn” back to the airport: a risky and often fatal maneuver. With aerial footage captured by Keller’s own video camera, this Real Pilot Story puts you in the right seat as the event develops. Learn why returning to the runway below pattern altitude is a dangerous gamble.

Approx. 9 minutes

Topics:  Safety Spotlight, Aerodynamics

Three Seconds, Three Choices

Three Seconds, Three Choices

Relinquishing PIC authority is never a good idea.

Approx. 6 minutes

Topics:  Safety Spotlight, VFR Into IMC

Toddler Overboard

Toddler Overboard!

A three-year-old accidentally opened the door at 10,000 feet.

Approx. 4 minutes

Vacuum Failure in IMC

Vacuum Failure in IMC

Donna Wilt’s vacuum failure was in solid IMC and thunderstorms.

Approx. 12 minutes

Topics:  Safety Spotlight, IFR Flight

VFR in a Snowstorm

VFR in a Snowstorm

Emergency landing on a snowy, muddy road near Wooster, Ohio.

Approx. 3 minutes

Topics:  Safety Spotlight, VFR Into IMC