Tales from the cockpit

Scary inflightBrian Cabhan recounts, “Every year my family and I fly from Cardiff, Wales to Dublin, Ireland with Aer Lingus.”

He continues, “Around two minutes later, I looked out of the window. The engine propeller wasn’t spinning. It had stopped. After I had noticed this, the captain announced,
‘We apologise for the little scare. We had to shut down the left engine as a precaution. There was nothing to worry about. Cabin crew please take your seats for landing.’

We descended out of the clouds into thick, heavy rain, which battered the aircraft. As we were descending downwards we came into the airport boundaries.”

“Just as we were about to hit the runway the plane flipped to the left. I looked out of the window to see the wing just about missing the ground. We tried to straighten out but couldn’t. We went back up. We struggled to get through the clouds. When we got above the clouds and into the blue sky the left engine restarted. The captain said that we were going to divert to Kerry. We landed in Kerry and Aer Lingus organised a flight for all the passengers to fly back to Dublin later that night. We landed in Dublin at around 11:00 pm.”

When aboard a flight, anything can go wrong. Commercial airline travel takes us far, out of our comfort zone. We’re herded into cylinders that zip hundreds of miles per hour at 30,000 feet, subjected to security screenings, confronted with delays and lost luggage, rushed to catch connecting flights, constrained to small seats, scrunched up with strangers, and surrounded by pathogens.

It’s no mystery that we end up becoming a bundle of raw nerves by journey’s end.
But, how many of us have wondered how a pilot would react when some thing goes wrong? What goes on their minds? Do they panic in such situations?

There are a lot of sayings in the Aviation Community to prove various points. One of them fits these stories perfectly:

“Being a pilot consists of long periods of boredom speckled with moments of sheer terror.”

Exec brings to you a few of the scariest in-flight moments as narrated from the cockpit.
Molon Labe tells his story.

“I remember departing the old Hong Kong Kai Tak airport on runway 13 in a 747-200 freighter. We were relatively heavy and the temperature was just over 37 degrees Celsius.”

“The lower cargotrim air heaters had turned yellow. This meant that it had become too hot and needed to shut off, because of ambient heat. As we were taking off, the second engine was acting strange, unlike the other three engines.”

He goes on, “On hitting V1 (critical engine failure recognition speed), the aircraft stood still for about 10 knots or so. The cockpit filled with smoke, and it was thick enough that we could barely see the cockpit instruments. We sat there, trying to chug up the VR (Rotation speed. The speed at which the aircraft’s nose-wheel leaves the ground), since we were past V1, which seemed like forever.”

“We goggled up with our oxygen masks. The main deck was engulfed with smoke, which was so thick that one could only see about two pallet positions back when I began my circuit around the aircraft. I had about 30 pounds of breathing gear on my back and a huge extinguisher, which was 40 pounds, and still made it around the whole main deck before the airplane got to 5000 feet.”

“By this time the smoke had cleared quite a bit and we could see it the blue tint, which meant it was an engine bleed source. The second engine went on oil watch, with the bleeding wire closed. “

He concludes, “We had a lot of possible outcomes to worry about in a very short time. Luckily, we managed to set things right and continue with our flight.”
“That was my scariest in-flight moment, and to be honest, my narration does not do the drama any justice.”

Nicholas Gilman recounts of his scariest in-flight incident.

“For me, it was in 2002. As we were approaching the airport for our final landing, after several stops along the East Coast, the aircraft suddenly jolted and bumped down. It does happen when on an aircraft is flying, more often when the aircraft is descending, but this time, it was scary because at the exact moment the aircraft bumped a girl, sitting probably two rows behind me, did one of those laughing screams.”
“For about a second, I thought the aircraft had ripped open in the back and I was about to be sucked out at FL220.”

“My heart jumped up to my throat! I then realised I was being very naive.”

Dave Johnson also tells us of an in-flight incident.

“During a trip to the Bahamas in a Pilatus, we were cruising along out over the water when a passenger in the back started having seizure. I declared a medical emergency and made a 180 back to Florida. “

“There was a crash crew and an ambulance waiting for our arrival. All worked out well, with the exception of a 15 year old with a life altering diagnosis of epilepsy.”
Gary Ostrander narrates.

“Once, we were flying along under clear blue skies with a 20% chance of isolated TS (thunder storm). Within 10 to 12 minutes, I found myself surrounded by a thunderstorm, which were in the process of merging with me in the middle.”

He continues, “I will always remember the conversation with FSS (Flight Service Station) when I called in a pilot report.”

“The guys voice made it clear that he really didn’t believe what I was telling him.

FSS: So you’re seeing light rain?

Ostrander: No, very heavy rain all around.
FSS: And you’re seeing occasional lightning?
Ostrander: No, almost constant lightning.
FSS: Okay, I’ll go ahead and put this in the system. Is there anything else? Hold on a second… I see them now… they just popped up… There’s a wide area of convective activity ranging from…

And the FSS continued describing what was happening on his screen.
After he had finished telling me what I already knew, his voice changed. It became clear that he had become worried about my safety, which wasn’t really very comforting.”

Sourced from www.airlinepilotforums.com, www.pilotsofamerica.com, www.flightsfromhell.com.

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