Pilot's tip of the week

First Action for Any Emergency


Subscriber question:

"I just got my Private ticket and my biggest fear is I'll just freeze up if ever faced with a real emergency. Any words of wisdom?" — Danny M.


“A critical item to me that is seldom talked about is the psychology of first deciding that you’re gonna handle this thing successfully.

A funny story from Pat Epps, one of my favorite people, one of my favorite aviators. One of the things that he’s known for was the Glacier Girl recovery of these P-38s from the Greenland Ice Cap.

They were shuttling people and equipment to the ice cap in Greenland on a ski-equipped DC-3. Pat was flying the DC-3 with this younger co-pilot, who was telling the story. They had just taken off with a full load of stuff from the ice cap, and one of the engines on this DC-3 had a catastrophic failure. It was blowing parts through the cowling. Oil was everywhere. The co-pilot was understandably quite alarmed and was shouting out about this emergency they had on the number two engine. Trying to rush through feathering the prop and cutting off the fuel. All the normal things that a pilot would do in that situation.

He said that Pat’s response was to look over at him, tap him on the knee, and say, ‘Son, it’s gonna be all right.’

That seemed to me the right mental attitude to go address an emergency. First, he decided that it was going to be okay. Then he went through the steps of addressing it.

It’s just imperative to me to recognize that this emergency is actually taking place, accept it, decide it’s going to be okay, and then go about your business.”

Here’s a video where Jeff Van West and Keith Smith work through an engine out emergency scenario.

How important do you think attitude is in surviving an emergency?

(NEW) VFR Mastery scenario #69 “Something’s Come Up” is now available. Passenger airsickness is an annoyance that almost every pilot has had to deal with at one time or another. Landing ASAP is the rule, but VFR above the clouds complicates the execution. The passenger might not be the only problem as well. Maybe you shouldn’t have ordered the fish. Watch the Intro video.

Get the Pilot’s Tip of the Week

Sign up here to receive tips like this every week along with videos, quizzes and more.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.