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Pay Attention When Learning To Fly

by John M. White |

One of the things I remember most about learning to fly in West Texas was emergency landing practice. As most student pilots know your instructor will pull the power on you at the most inconvenient time forcing you to figure out where to land your sick bird. However, as an ATP pilot flying jets you don't give thinking about where to put your airplane down in the event of an engine failure because nothing usually happens, and memories of our earlier training have faded from our minds. Oh sure, we take recurrent in the sim, but tooling around in a Cessna 172 and keeping our eyes open for a field just doesn't happen. For one young pilot by the name of Peter May, however, the reality of that training came back with a vengeance. You see Peter May flies Cessna Caravans for Wiggins Aircraft of Manchester, NH on FedEx routes. All was well until December 3rd of this year. FedEx Cessna 208 Caravan While enroute from Syracuse, NY to Plattsburgh when the turboprop engine failed at 7:45am and an altitude of 7,500 above the clouds. He was some 15 miles from Griffiss Air Force Base and on approach to the airport he rapidly lost air speed and altitude. Breaking out of the clouds around 1,000 feet AGL he had to make a quick decision about landing in Lake Delta just north of Rome, NY, or a hayfield owned by the Von Matts. He choose the hayfield and landed successfully with no damage to himself or the aircraft. The moral of the story is just because you have an advanced pilot's license and are flying a lot with no problems, fate has a way of catching up. It reminds me of a book I loved and read years ago called "Fate is the Hunter" by Earnest K. Gann. If you haven't read it pick up a copy - you will be glad you did! Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7

There are two critical points in every aerial flight—its beginning and its end.

— Alexander Graham Bell, 1906

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