"If the engine fails, obviously we want to land at an airport. Should this always be our first option, especially if the airport is not right below us?" - Neal G.
“If we’re flying at an altitude that allows us to safely reach an airport, it’s a wonderful choice and allows us our best and our safest option. Using the GPS nearest function can help us identify an airport. It might be behind you, it may be off to either side, and your altitude allows you to safely make the airport: excellent choice, and that’s exactly what you want to do.
Air Traffic Control may help you identify an airport that you can reach.
But I have to tell you, in my experience, there are pilots that have gotten themselves into trouble trying to stretch their glide to an airport. When you try to stretch your glide to an airport, you can lose control of your airplane. Stall-spin accidents occur, so the decision-making process is not an easy one. It’s a decision that needs to be made early: whether or not your have sufficient altitude to make the runway.
Trying to stretch your glide to a runway can prove deadly.”