What scared you in an airplane?

Joseph II

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What have you had happen that scared you in an airplane?

Were you the pilot/copilot, or a passenger (such as riding as a pax on an airline)?

WX/System Failures/Sick PAX/Falling asleep/spins, stalls?

In my short flying career I've had carb ice at night and didn't know what it was (I was a very new pilot), and have had several close calls with other aircraft in busy airspace.
 

qwerty

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Doing BFR's with Private Pilots who haven't flown in years
 

T-handle

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When I was as CFI, doing a checkout for a former Navy pilot who had never flared upon landing.
 

surplus1

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Fire (internal), accidental penetration of a nymphoCu, engine fire. big pond (very cold) - one engine.
 

surfnole

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Took a friend sightseeing then dropped him off. He got out of the plane and his seat belt fell outside the door when he closed it.

I took off and heard this deafening loud metallic banging noise. For a few seconds, adrenalin surged through my body until I figured out I was still flying and I found the cause of the problem.

I was a brand new PPL. I briefly considered leaning across to open the passenger door and fix it, but then correctly decided to land and fix the problem.
 

Chunk

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A-hole O-4's

Flying off the boat (S-3), get a weight on wheels failure, no big dea, right? Go out to do some bombing practice with 500lb shapes (inert bombs). In the midst of a 10 degree pop pulling a coupla G's, get a wing/fin unlocked light. The WoW served (along with a lot of other things) as an interlock to keep the pins in the wing and vertical stab locked, preventing them from folding inflight. Heard the wing pins ratcheting, got real scared, real quick. I was a *junior* SENSO on the second month of my first cruise. The Mission Commander (TACCO) was an 0-4, the Safety Dept. Head, and he didn't want to "embarrass the squadron by calling a rep". He turned to me and told me to safe my ejection seat, get up and get him the NATOPS (flight manual). Even as an E-4, I knew enough to tell him to get stuffed. Long story short, he ended up getting it himself. Trapped uneventfully.
 

avbug

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Fires, structural failures, gear failures, hydraulic failures, pneumatic failures, electrical failures, Instrument failures, you name it. Not a problem. Formation flights under powerlines at gross weights, not a problem. Flight into 300' columns of flame. Not a problem.

Landing and taxiing in and realizing that my wallet is in my other pants, and an inspector is standing on the ramp...scared **CENSORED****CENSORED****CENSORED****CENSORED**less.

Departing and realizing that I forgot to call the wife as promised. Panic City. Remembering that it was my anniversary to boot...would just as soon die before arriving home.

It's all relative. The airplane hasn't the power to scare; it's us. What really drives us?
 

jaybird

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East Central Florida

the thought of about 300+ training aircraft all in the same general area still scares me to this day.
 

InHot

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Buddy of mine flew a Citabria out of Oceanside, CA. After one of the spring floods he cleaned up mud off the bottom of the airplane fired her up and took off for a joy ride in the hills of So Cal. Climbing out of 800' he looks up and sees a rattle snake coiled around the overhead tubing! The snake's not happy, spitting & rattling his tail, my buddy's s***ing himself.

He button hooks it, lands 180 out from his takeoff and runs for the hills. One of the local fellows got the snake out no problem. The smell took a while longer.
 

bobbysamd

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Three scary incidents

300+ training aircraft in the Florida skies, as Jaybird mentioned.

Item: One time we're shooting an approach in VFR into Fort Pierce. We're cleared and tower is talking to a Baron. It is clear the pilot was linguistically challanged. Tower was trying to tell this Baron to follow us, but the Baron wasn't comprehending. He is coming from our right. I am scared half to death that we would be midaired. I could not find this aircraft. I recall that he cut in front of me, barely. I filed a NASA report.

Item: Another time at Fort Pierce, we're at the hold line and are cleared for takeoff. We line up on the runway and my student is advancing the throttles when some airplane pulled in front of us without a takeoff clearance and departed. The tower apologized. I understood that tower would turn in a report. Yours truly turned in a NASA report on that one, too.

At Riddle my student and I are practicing slow flight in a 172. We have an observer in the back, as is Riddle's custom, so we have aft CG considerations. Full, power, the stall horn is blaring and my student is slightly uncoordinated. Flaps are extended fully. My student pulls back a little more. You probably can guess the rest of the story. We enter a left-hand spin entry with possible aft CG and full flaps. The ground looms closer in our windscreen (slight exageration for dramatic effect, but only a slight exageration). I took it, pulled off the power, raised the flaps and we recover. Thirteen years later, I still shudder when I recall this incident.
 
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flyboy

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Linguisitical problems in Florida? NO WAY! I have felt your pain down here many times. Guys that barely speak english who are told to extend downwind while you are on final and they read back something to the effect of "roger, turning final." Also, having the engine cowling access panel on a 172 pop open while a pre-private doing t and goes (1st solo). The very next flight, different airplane, had total electrical failure on the downwind and actually had to use light gun signals. It was my first no-flap landing and I had about 15 hours. SCARED ****less!!!
 

HappyFlying

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I had carb ice one night IMC in a C150 over Hazard, Kentucky. That was a bit of a thrill but the most scared I've ever been was when I opened the bill from my first annual. I never found out where all those screws the mechanic left in my fuel tester came from either. That always worried me.
Without a little excitement now and then we wouldn't have anything to say at hangar flying sessions.
 

CF34-3B1

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Most frightening thing ever:

I invite my girlfriend along on one of my overnights. Nice evening planned of dinner, a few drinks in the hotel hot tub, etc etc. As the passengers are coming down to board for departure, I look out the cockpit window, and see..........................my wife.
 

avbug

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First fire season, with a prominent captain. Loading. Captain pokes his head in the back hatch and asks if we have any three foot stainless hose clamps on board. Nope, I say. Great, I'm thinking. The only thing those clamps are used for is holding the loading tubes inside the tanks so they don't move, and if they break, we're down for some repairs, during a busy fire.

Stupid me.

Captain says no problem. Fueled, oiled, and off to the races. Checklists done, and we depart, taking evasive action for rooftop antennaes and volkswagens. Get the gear up. Clean up and checklist done.

Oh, by the way, says the captain...our nose gear is cracked. Go have a look. Hmmm. Would have been nice to know BEFORE takeoff. Unstrap. Go aft, go below. Crawl forward to nose gear assembly. Yep. Cracked. Not just cracked, but translating bracket which attaches nosegear actuator to the main bogey, cracked clean through, and separated. One of three pieces. Will it hold?

Back upstairs. Yes, it's cracked. Say intentions. He said he could fix it with hoseclamps. Hmmm. Not what I wanted to hear.

Some days are longer than others. That was a long day.
 

AWACoff

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One day flying the ORD-LAN route...
Sigmets out for Severe Icing.
We are climbing out to our cruising altitude of 17,000ft. We are picking up a good bit of ice and there was enough slinging off the props and hitting the fuselage that the FA called us. Going through 16,000ft things got a bit dicey. We had ice out to the tips of the props and well aft of the boots. Ice was also building on the side windows of the cockpit. We were at an indicated airspeed of 170kts and climbing at 0 to 200ft per minute through convective icing. We were in continuous moderate turbulence and the airplane felt extremely sluggish. We could see peeks of sun through the tops occasionally. At one point the airspeed suddenly dropped to 150kts in the turbulence forcing me to shove the yoke forward hard. The captain and I quickly discussed to go up or down (words to the effect of "UP OR DOWN?! "what do you think?" UP!!). I (hindsight being 20/20) stupidly suggested that we could climb out of it {my thinking being if we could climb out of it we would be out of all the icing...moderate icing was the lightest we had seen throughout the departure}. The captain hesitantly agreed. A few minutes later we popped out on top.

Gotta love Brasilias.
 

ifly4food

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I had an icing incident on that same route (LAN-ORD) in descent.
An Eagle flight reported moderate icing on the approach. Recalling how Eagle reports "moderate" icing when the see 3 snowflakes post-Roselawn, we took a wait and see approach.
Sure enough, descending through 7000 on the intercept to 14L (actually had been cleared 14R then swapped as the loc came alive) we started to pick it up fast. We already had everything on. We were in a Brasilia ER with 26 pax and near max ldg weight.
Ice quickly covered the side windows so that we couldn't see the wings. At the marker, I called for "gear down, condition levers max" and when it was accomplished, the airplane began to shake violently. We added another 10 kt to our already inflated Vref. It took 55% torque at 100%Np to hold 145kt.
We broke out at 200-1 to find the windshields completely iced over despite windshield heat and wipers. Only a 3" by 3" hole in the center of each.
We landed and taxied in (slowly). Pulling into the ramp, we could tell by the looks on the rampers' races (and it's hard to impress a gangbanger) that we were bad.
In the postflight, we found the entire airframe forward of the wings a "popsicle" with 1/2 inch of coarse clear ice. All windows, including passenger windows forward of the wings were covered. The props were coated, and the ice melted off the heated boot but refroze on the metal part making a 1" "rams horn" on each blade (hence the shaking). On the wing, the ice ran back 1 foot behind the protected area above the wing and 2 ft behind the protected area below the wing.

You never saw two pilots kiss the ground faster. right behind us, a company B1900 taxied in in the same shape. Right after that, they closed the airport for a couple hours.

This story is a tribute to the E120. If you fly it right... keep the speed up... it can handle it's share of ice. However, I fear to think what would have happened if we had to go missed.
 

Caveman

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I was on short, short final landing with a fully feathered prop in a Seminole. It's about 35C. The student is flying. An ultralight pulls out onto the runway. We execute a single engine go around from about 100ft AGL. Never made it above 400 AGL on our way back around the pattern.

After landing I had a very animated conversation with the pilot of the ultralight. He was extremly apologetic but claimed that until I approached him afterward he didn't even know I was in the pattern.
 

captjim

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HHHMMMMM. Picking up ice doing a body flight over mountains at night inroute to Windslow, AZ. Oh yea it was in a 172. Quite an erie flight. Yea I said a body flight (a stiff). I say the damdest things at times. I look over at this body an said "Well you have nothing to lose". No kiding. That was the most nerve racking job I ever had! Oh by the way I did go to the "Corner in Windslow AZ". :D
 
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ShawnC

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Well the 300+ training planes probally scares me the most. I was flying a Saratoga II TC with a TCAS, MY GOD is there alot of planes. I remember the TCAS just filled with aircraft the entire trip and it was constant "Traffic Traffic".
 

bobbysamd

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Amendment to my post above

I wanted to amend what I wrote above about one of my Ft. Pierce, Florida, incidents. This is from my files.

I was demonstrating a maximum performance landing in a Seminole for two students. One was flying and the other was observing from the back. Tower was giving instructions to the linguistically-challanged Baron, who was circling north of the field and wanted a landing clearance. The tower had pointed out a Cherokee that cut in front of us and which we had in sight. The Controller kept asking the Baron if he had us. He said he did not. The tower told him repeatedly to turn downwind. This moron did not. He converged on us from the right at our altitude. When it became clear that he might midair us, I reduced power and dived as this "pilot" passed overhead. My students, from Italy, estimated 20 meters of separation. I estimated 50 feet.

This gets better (?!?). Tower told the Baron to set up for another runway, but he set up behind us for our runway. Tower kept telling us he was about to eat up our Six. We landed safely. So did this guy.

Bad enough that he near-misses us the first time. We had him in sight. The second segment was far more frightening because he was on our Six and was not in sight.

This whole deal scared me sh--- - well, you can well imagine the type of excrement.
 
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