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Scariest Real World flying Mistake?

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What was your scariest real world flying mistake? Ill start off with mine. On one of my flying lessons we were simulating instrument failures, so I practiced running through the appropriate procedures and when looking for the alt static knob I found myself getting too close to pulling the fuel shutoff valve than I would ever want to be:o, luckily I caught my scary mistake before I actually tugged out the knob and made it home in one piece... lol.:-hang

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I was doing some circuits at night about a year ago when the scariest moment I've ever had happened to me.I was turning base to final (starting to sound familar already?) and I was a bit more interested in making a tight, quick pattern than doing it the right way, which resulted in me making the turn to final way too sharply. Keeping a long story short, I nearly got myself stalled at about 3 or 400' AGL, while in the turn. Whats worse is I had a passenger with me. Very very stupid mistake. Needless to say I definitely learned a good lesson. Not everyone gets to live to learn it.

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This didn't happen to me (I'm not a pilot) but it happened to a friend of mine I used to work with. It was more stupidity (Not by him) than a mistake though. His job before he worked with us was with Grumman out in Long Island NY. He also lived out there. He was working towards his PPL of his own out of Farmingdale (KFRG). One Saturday he was up with his CFI and a couple of his former buddies from Gruman who were flying in an E2C Hawkeye knew he would be flying that day, located him (presumably with their radar), came up from behind him and buzzed him with no notice. He said he literally peed in his pants! His CFI obviously wasn't too happy about it either. Needless to say, his buddies didn't come away unscathed either!

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Good topic.Mine was in my PPL training days, I had just soloed several weeks before and was doing touch and goes. I landed the C172 and got the dreaded porpoise routine, so went around. I was so focused on the bad landing that I foolishly ignored the flaps 40 and carb heat on. This was summer, and the 5,000' MSL runway had a density altitude of around 8,000'. I was mushing in ground effect looking at some trees getting close, then I wondered what in my ear was making that screetching sound- it was the stall horn of course. Once I knew that, I knew my problem. I will never ever forget that!Bruce.

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I don't know if I'd call it a mistake-but my scariest was:After takeoff from Knoxville-just leveling off in solid imc and approaching the mountains north of Knoxville-my prop chose to over speed, vsi started jumping +-1500 and my autopilot which I had just engaged was dutifully following the vsi gyrations with increasing pitch excursions.Pulled the throttle all the way back and disengaged the autopilot-got the overspeed in control-let atc know my problem and asked them to inform me of any mode c altitude diversions. Turned my apollo 195 (yes that old) to the altitude readout and used the gps readout for altitude and mentally added 150 feet which I knew was the error. Asked atc to inform me if my altitude got off at all-flew for 45 minutes to what I knew was vfr conditions ahead-atc never had to call me -the beauty of gps....Turned out that there was a pin head sized hole in one of my static lines-and there was a hairline crack in some part of my prop assembly.http://mywebpages.comcast.net/geofa/pages/rxp-pilot.jpgForum Moderatorhttp://geofageofa.spaces.live.com/

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OK, scariest moment for me by far was my final solo nav flight prior to doing my PPL test. It was winter and I took off in marginal weather for an intended 4 hour flight. As I had cancelled the flight several times already due weather, I found myself pushing on with a thick cloud base at 3500 feet. Very quickly the back door was closed! and I was dodging cloud down to 1000ft AGL. After an hour I turned due west back toward my home port sighting the only familiar mountain peak I could see. Had to dodge several low cloud layers during my 30min return to base. Got back on the ground to a very thankful instructor who realised with hindsight he shouldn't have signed me out. Really, really stupid move to press on and one I'm lucky to have learnt from and lived! As my instructor said, you can't buy experience like that.Ken.http://www.kennair.com

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Hi Ken,Interesting experience. After this experience (I assume you passed the PPL ride?), did you get your instrument rating?I know of someone locally in that very predicament that called Denver Center for help, and figured they would address the legal questions from the FAA later (was not instrument rated, but had just got the private). He filed a NASA form, and interestingly the local FSDO actually congratulated that guy on thinking correctly (I believe some sanction was taken against him, but not as severe as it could have been). Bruce.

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My experience was similar to Bruce's. My mind burns from the emotions to this day.Back in the 90's, I earned my private ticket. A few months after, I was coming back from the practice area when I called tower and they gave me Rwy 05 for landing, matching the ATIS I had gotten minutes before. Cold, a high ceiling. I don't recall double-checking the windsock as I entered the pattern.I remember the feeling of floating with no touchdown, 30* of flaps. Sensing something was wrong, I gave it full throttle but mushed along. My airspeed hovered around 65. I remembered a ton of stuff, like fly the airplane, don't raise all of the flaps at once, level the wings. I had the right rudder pegged and was fighting the elevators to keep the nose down to not stall. No Stall, no spin. I too saw treetops. I was scared, in my mind I saw a C-172 stalling and spinning in at low altitude midfield (in b&w by the way). After what felt like minutes, but was seconds, the airspeed was slowly coming back. I trimmed some nose-down. I raised the flaps in increments as the speed built and called tower.Totally shaken up, tower directed me to Rwy 05 again. I thought of heading out of the airport area to regroup but that meant the 172 would not be back in time. I still didn't check the windsock but was a little more prepared. Not learning that lesson, I climbed to TPA and flew the approach to 05, not carrying as much airspeed on final. I did touchdown, although it did not feel pretty. I exited at the third taxiway and tower sent me to ground point niner. In that same breath, he cleared an aircraft to land 23. I uttered a discouraging word.I was ready to b@rf. Scared, angry, shaking, all the emotions. I had thought I was not long for the world during that go-around. I taxied back, shutdown and tied the plane up. I relayed the story to my CFI. She suggested I fly some more and we could work on downwind landings. I guess she didn't see how it affected me.I learned alot that day. I am pilot in command. I should have checked the windsock and not relied on tower for runway info. I should have listened more to tower traffic to see where tower was vectoring people. I should have taken that time to exit the pattern and regroup; may be then I would have realized what happened. At least I should have gone thru my pre-landing checklist that second time. I could have withstood the tongue-lashing from the owner for being late, I could have afforded that extra 15-30 minutes on the rental. I suffered from get-down-itis.That was my last private pilot solo flight. I've flown some since then, but always with an instructor aboard. Pattern work, limited aerobatics, some formation and simulated air combat. I've even landed an MD-90 in an Airline sim (un-named; but in Atlanta) with a total fuel imbalance. I attend the FAA & AOPA conferences, read and watch as much as I can and use MSFS2004. I had one bad landing in over 100 plus; I've learned from the experience but have not moved on from it.Sorry to hog your thread. Probably not what you expected.Pilot in Command carries alot of responsibility, but the most is to yourself to do the right thing.Good luck.JimPS: there was another time, during my dual training, we were on approach to an uncontrolled airport, made all of the radio calls. On final, I looked up and there was a plane on the opposite approach! Not scared, we went around when we did not get an answer on the radio. We gave way to the right. But we were pi55ed! He made no radio calls and did not respond to any. Be prepared.

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This one doesn't sound that scary, but believe me, at the time it was:I was on very short finals once, this was coming in to land on an airfield that is basically on top of a hill, so I was making a steep fast approach toward the edge of the hill with the ground of course rising to meet me. In order to negate the danger of the reducing headwind lowering my airspeed as I got lower and flew through the 'curlover', I was keeping a lot of speed on.That was when I realised I was too high, and would land way down the field, and so, being pretty inexperienced at the time, I shoved forward on the stick to get down sooner. Of course, because I had more speed on than would have normally been the case, the elevators were far more effective in the increased airflow than I was used to at approach speeds, and so the aircraft did a bunt and put on a lot of negative G.At that time, I wasn't really used to what negative G felt like in an aircraft, and I mistook the feeling for thinking the aircraft was dropping away into a spin, which, needless to say, at that height and in those circumstances would almost certainly have been fatal.I froze for about two seconds and literally got one of those 'life flashing before me moments', and I can assure you that time really does seem to slow down in those moments! So, for a couple of seconds, I performed 'the ******* manouever' as they call it - i.e. nobody but the Lord Almighty on the controls - fortunately I realised I wasn't going to die and took control back off ******* to make a reasonably decent landing (if a little long)!I've had moments which were probably potentially more dangerous than that one whilst flying, but that definitely was the one which scared me. Like they say, there's no substitute for experience.Chock

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I know that my experience (above) scared the heck out of me at the time. Sounds good to "brag" about it now, 10 years later. I sense that in all of these stories the same fears that I had (life flashing moments, as Chock puts it) were had by all to some extent.I've heard pilots talk of the "simulator effect", even for big level-d sims with full motion platforms. Even if you have really convinced yourself that you are flying, some small brain cell somewhere knows that it's just a simulation of reality.I tried some really wild wx here in the Denver area a few days ago, in FSX with ASX. Why someone would ever fly with continual lightning strikes from above is a mystery, but I did anyway. Flying the F1 C172R, I soon got into such windshear that not only could I not fly the aircraft manually, but the auto-pilot screwed it up too. This is in instrument conditions, and afterwards I chastened myself for getting way behind the airplane as I fought the wx. But I was never scared, and I think how that would have felt in actual flight- in fact I can't even think about it, and it happens to some degree so many times in GA (loss of control).This

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That just reminded me of another one I had in a glider once. It was a dual flight with an instructor in the backseat for some advanced stuff we were hoping to do, but, as we were getting ready to go, I saw lightning flashes on the horizon about (I guessed) twenty five miles away. I pointed this out to the instructor, but he said he hadn't seen them each time I pointed one out. This made me start to have doubts about him, and I guess there's another lesson for us all, if you have some doubts, stay on the ground.Anyway, we took off via a winch launch up to about 1,000 feet above the airfield height and the instuctor flew us down to a ridge about a mile or so from the airfield, with the intention of gaining some more height. Right about this time, the thunderstorm was heading toward the airfield, and the instructor managed to get us down to pretty much the height we'd been at on the airfield, but unfortunately a mile or so away, stuck in a valley, which again made me question his judgement, and mine if I am honest for going with him! Then he says: 'Okay, you've got her.' and leaves me to try and get us out of trouble, obviously thinking that if I screwed up and put us in a field somewhere, he wouldn't get the blame. Gee thanks.So, there I am, crawling along the edge of a ridge, barely maintaining height and actually looking up at trees and buildings above us, while a thunderstorm is getting nearer and nearer. So I start asking the guy in the back what does he think is the best option, and guess what? Yup, he'd completely frozen up and wouldn't say a word! Which meant it was all up to me. Now, what I eventually managed to do was get us up to a height where I figured we might be in with a shot at making it back to the airfield, and sure enough, we did make it into the circuit, and it was a #### of a ride getting there with that storm coming too! But, because the storm was just passing over us, the wind direction had swung through 180 degrees and as I was on the (what I thought was downwind) for the circuit, I noticed the windsock was now blowing in completely the opposite direction from what it had been when we took off about 45 mins beforehand. So I abandoned the circuit and crossed the strip to do a shortened version of the circuit for landing the other way.It was at this point that the 'instructor' finally snapped out of it and asked me what I was doing, to which I replied rather tersely: 'Oh, you're back with us are you? Look at the windsock'. At which, he shut up again.Below me I could see some other gliders coming in the wrong way as they'd evidently not noticed the windsock, and because of this, I had to land in between two gliders that were already down and another one coming into the field in the opposite direction, which fortunately touched down a little bit before me (probably because he slammed it down in a panic with that hefty tailwind shoving him across the field at a rate of knots!), so I was able to pick the route in between the two already on the field, as I knew there was no way anyone would go that way if they had another choice!When we both climbed out of the aircraft, I was fuming and he was obviously concerned I'd have it out with him, but I never did and we parked the thing up in a hangar in an awkward silence.Needless to say, I vowed never to fly with the guy again, and never did. Nevertheless, I still admit that it was my fault not to have been brave enough to stand up and say something in the presence of someone I thought had better knowledge and experience than me. So in the end, it was a valuable lesson I learned, just not a flying lesson!Chock

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Hi Bruce,Yes I flew my nav about a month later on a beautiful sunny day without issue. Passed my PPL sometime later on an equally sunny and uneventful day. Not instrument rated as yet, but on the list.I also tried contacting flightwatch to ammend my flightplan but couldn't raise them due to my low altitude. It was certainly a case of 'up there wishing I was down here'!Ken.http://www.kennair.com

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Hi Ken,"It was certainly a case of 'up there wishing I was down here'!"Yep, been there too. Learnt that it's better to be "down here wishing you were up there"......I like your webite..... :)In many ways FSX/FS9 can be a great tool for learning flight- even if you don't get to actually experience the fear :). In instrument flight it's obviously good for practicing the scan and dealing with partial panel, etc., even bad weather. I wish there was more capacity for the unexpected ATC calls in IFR (even on a skc day). As a low time instrument pilot myself, this is where I would like to get more practice- having a controller totally revise your clearance, or switch runways, holds (somewhat dealt with in RC4). Even an unexpected clearance from Clearance Delivery (not the "as filed"). I can recall my first time at getting a totally different clearance before I taxied, and being somewhat over-whelmed at having to re-program the GPS, making sure I had the DP chart in the departure clearance (and understanding it).Good thread!Bruce.Bruce.

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"Vatsim!"Yes, I must try that sometime. I became a member but have never really used it- actually tried it once, but the controller had was called by his mother for dinner, so that was it.Bruce.

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Ok, early in my training I'm cleared by my instructor for solo flight to any airport within 50 miles of my local FBO...he lives 30 miles away. He calls and says come down in the morning and we'll set up for your short solo CC.The approach is for 23 and I need a bit of right rudder to correct for the crosswind so...stable approach, hold right rudder, touchdown and the aircraft does immediate 90 deg. right turn off the runway and through the dirt toward the construction guys pouring the new fuel pad. Panic, step full left rudder, the plane does 90 deg. left turn and I notice the short snow fence and rocks beyond and in a split second apply full throttle and pull up at about 55-60 indicated and barely clip the fence with the main gear as I clear it. Fortunately I still had not retracted the flaps 20 and had presence of mind to retract them in steps as I climbed straight out to 3000 and flew circles until I stopped shaking:-)Back to the airport, normal landing, talk to my intructor and it turns out the boots I had on had helped me get up on the right toe brake when I touched down...now my personal "gump" check is heels on the floor, toes away from toe brakes:-) Hope this helps.

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