AOPA Pilot columnist and aviation humorist Rod Machado had AOPA members in stitches, even though his talk - how to handle in-flight emergencies - was no laughing matter.
"Outside of an act of God, nothing in an aircraft can hurt you," Machado told about 300 listeners. "By 'an act of God' I mean: If you're downwind, and you get hit by a meteorite."
Machado discussed five types of in-flight emergencies: structural failure, flight control failure, gear-up landings, in-flight fire, and engine failure. His advice: "Have a plan. Believe in the plan. And practice the plan enough to make it a habit."
While some pilots, particularly new students, might worry about the aircraft's wings coming apart in turbulence, Machado stressed just how strong those wings are.
"You can turn a Cessna 172 upside down and put 57 170-pound men on it, and the wings will flex," Machado said. When the men get off, the wings will return to their normal position.
If you have to make an emergency landing, your chances of walking away are better if you can minimize the G forces of the impact.
"Airplane cockpits are designed to absorb 9 Gs," he said. The minimum distance you can travel and stay under 9 Gs when you land at 50 knots is 12.8 feet. If you travel at least that far before coming to a stop, the cockpit should not break apart.
June 3, 2006