How a non-pilot can land an aircraft

We have just posted a story (Can a simulator pilot with no real flying experience fly a perfect pattern?) about how a flight simulator “pilot,” or rather someone with extensive flight simulator experience and no real flying GolfHotelWhiskey.com - Flight Simulatorexperience, confounded an airline pilot by flying a perfect pattern and landing on the first try in a real aircraft. But how could a non-pilot land an aircraft in an emergency situation?

Blogger, software engineer and pilot Eduardo Mourão attempted to answer that question on his blog by first writing that history shows someone with X years of flight simulator experience “will probably die:”

Probably not because it is difficult but because you don’t know what you don’t know. Flight simulators distort important aspects of landing airplanes: your awesome 200 degrees/3D vision, the muscle mechanics of flying and the notion of distance. In fact, flight simulators are harder than the real thing.

On the other hand, Eduardo was quick to concede that “many in the flight school I teach landed without the need for intervention in their first flight” – just like the guy we wrote about in the previous post (Note: There have been a few real life incidents where passengers were forced to take control of a general aviation aircraft after a pilot became incapacitated and with help of ATC, they were able to safely land). Eduardo also landed an aircraft for the first time when he was just 11 years old.

With that in mind, he went into considerable detail about the following steps a non-pilot needs to take in an emergency situation:

    1. Stay calm, take control
    2. Inform the situation
    3. Flying straight and airspeed
    4. Making turns
    5. Approaching
    6. Landing

Near the end of the post, Eduardo pointed out that playing 10 minutes with a flying simulator will make someone more comfortable maintaining an aircraft in the air, but it won’t help on a landing with the biggest mistake most first timers do is to come in too slow and too low.

Nevertheless and if you fly regularly with family members as passengers, having them play around on a flight simulator might be a good idea to get them comfortable with the basics of flying should they ever need to take over the controls in the event you are incapacitated.

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One Response to How a non-pilot can land an aircraft

  1. Ivan Blair February 16, 2013 at 11:47 #

    In the UK we had an incident a few years back where a GA pilot flying solo went blind(mostly) in cruise flight at 7000ft.
    ATC sent a military Trainer up and between them, they talked him down to a successful landing on a military airfield (long runway)!

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