Pilot's tip of the week

Forced Landing Checklist


Subscriber question:

"I had an engine failure on downwind and a forced landing in a plowed corn field. I spent the last 500 feet concentrating on landing the airplane but did not block the door open, turn all switches off, tighten seat belt, and turn fuel supply off. I did broadcast on UNICOM that I was having a forced landing but nobody paid attention because I didn't say Mayday, Mayday, Mayday. I spent too much time trying to restart the engine and neglected other critical items. I walked away without a scratch, but did $50K damage to my airplane. At what point is it useless to try and restart the engine?" - Fred Z.

Forced Landing


“Always insightful to hear from one who’s been there. Yes, there is certainly a point where you must stop trying to restart your failed engine and prepare for the landing (notice I didn’t say “crash”). There are certain priorities in every emergency.

For engine failure, aircraft control and proper airspeed management are your priorities! Finding a safe landing area is also crucial. As conditions permit, running a checklist to attempt restart and prepare for landing will come into play.

Once committed to a landing, getting the door opened and fuel shut off are very important. Removing ignition sources would also be very helpful.

Mayday calls would certainly enhance your rescue prospects as would a transponder change, but these items should not in any way compromise your aircraft control.

Sounds to me like you handled your situation in a safe manner with good priorities. Practice make perfect since during the real thing, you only get one shot at it!

One last thought, hopefully with an engine failure on downwind, we can still make it safely back to the runway. Keep that downwind leg tight enough to make that happen!”

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