It was a clear, crisp morning as the sun was shining brightly on my face. The conditions were perfect for flying as the Oklahoma wind lay still, not yet awake. I was not alone as Eric, my instructor, sat right-seat as we sputtered along in the single engine Piper Warrior.

Nothing was out of the ordinary when I glanced at my instruments and looked over the dash at the horizon. A sea of blue out ahead and green down below was all we could see for miles and miles as we drifted along at 5,000 feet above the ground. The hum of the engine was persistent enough to lull a less caffeinated person to sleep.

I was content with the boring nature of the flight when, seemingly out of nowhere, Eric reached over and pulled the throttle down to the off position — cutting power to the plane.

“Oh shit,” was my initial thought.

“Now what?” Eric asked with a look of amusement on his face. He could tell I had been caught off-guard, obviously what he was hoping for.

I panicked. My mind raced and my heart felt like it had thumped its way into my throat. This wasn’t just a test for some class. This could cost me my life someday if I didn’t know what to do in this situation. I squirmed in my seat as I tried to remember the steps of the emergency checklist.

But as the adrenaline hit, my mind cleared and I began to gently rock the wings side-to-side looking for a place to put the plane down simulating a crash landing. With the landing spot confirmed, I went through the emergency checklist, one item after another, just as I had practiced in the weeks leading up to the flight.

“You stumbled out of the gate, but we would have lived,” Eric said once I had prepared the plane for the simulated landing.

“How’d I do, though?” I asked, curious to know what he really thought. “Well, we would have walked away from it. And anytime you walk away, I’d say that’s a good landing.”

 

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