Attitude Is Everything

– a flight school instructor’s motto

89% of all single prop small aircraft crashes are sustainable. Most people can walk away from a “controlled crashed” without a scratch. It all has to do with right attitude. In aviation attitude is a double entendre. For airplane flights “right attitude” means flying parallel to earth.

Even with the lose of the engine the plane, if kept parallel to earth, can glide to the ground and have a “controlled crash” at roughly 38 miles per hour. Such a crash, even in a rough terrain, can be sustainable.

However, if the pilot doesn’t maintain proper attitude and for various reasons attempts to raise the plane, say, in the hope of reaching a runway, and lifts the plane, this will more than likely create a stall condition. When the plane stalls the plane will begin to drop into an accelerated tailspin. And as it now starts to nose dive directly toward earth – perpendicular to the ground – it will increase its speed at 32 feet per second and within eight seconds reach a maxim speed of roughly 120 miles per hour. This vertical direction toward the ground at this great speed is, of course, not likely sustainable.

It is, therefore, essential that the pilot when faced with such a serious problem remains calm and collected – or in the language of Dr. Bowen, “a non-anxious presence”. The pilot must remain focused at all times in order to keep the craft at the proper attitude. He or she must refrain from any impulsive or wishful thinking that will only lead to a poor result. Instead, the pilot must prepare for having a controlled crash that needs to be ridden out to the conclusion. The pilot’s very life, as well as the lives of any others on board, is at stake.