Scariest Moments as a Pilot

That’s nice of them!

Almost loosing an engine on takeoff, no comma in busy class C airspace, ATC asking you to rely a message to an aircraft on guard because there ELT was going off…

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This was about a year ago when I had just started working on my PPL. I was out in a c152 with my instructor to do manoeuvres and on the way back (about 12nm out from GPM) we were having a casual conversation when at the last second I noticed a c172 of to our right a bit ahead of us coming directly across our flight path 🤦🏾‍♂️ Same altitude and going a good bit faster than we were. Instructor threw in full throttle and pulled up so fast it was like complete panic mode 😂


Shortly after this taking this photo^ (Note clouds below my altitude - sign of visible moisture)

I was on my long solo commercial cross country leg 3/4, a quick and easy 90 minute flight from San Jose, CA down to Paso Robles, CA.

I have previously flown to San Jose from Bakersfield. Everything was perfect (I was on the DRY side of the coastal ranges… you see where this is going).

Just when I was singing along to some r&b, my 2400RPM cruise setting dipped to 1900RPM, then began to fluctuate between 1900RPM and 2100RPM. I was at 7500’ doing about 85KIAS on a Cessna 152. Quickly, the airspeed deteriorated to about 70KIAS.

Things that I did immediately

  • Look for landing spot (Okay, 101 freeway)
  • Suspected carburetor icing (Alright, carb heat on)

Since I could no longer hold altitude and there is a restricted area and a MOA below me, I declared precautionary emergency status with Oakland Center and coded 7700 in the box.

Now the scary part: the running STILL runs rough after 2 minutes of carb heat, while I am doing full power and flying down at about 300FPM.

ATC quickly pointed me out the nearest airport, one that’s inside the MOA.

Almost instantly, the roughness disappeared, and everything was back to normal. I cancelled my emergency status and went back to my regular beacon code. To assure that the loss of partial engine was due to carb icing and there isn’t something else to it, I saved enough altitude for the pattern so I can ,if I need to, do a 180 power-off landing (ironically required for commercial…).

It wasn’t a good landing, but it was safe. For the rest of the trip from Paso Robles to Long Beach, essentially as soon as I turn the carb heat off the roughness and RPM loss started again. I flew home with carb heat applied most of the way!

Lessons learned:

  • ALWAYS get flight following!

  • Watch out for carb heat at all altitudes and power setting!

  • Foreflight’s nearest airport display also shows heliport. Be careful!


that’s why i fly gliders

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I’ve been very lucky so far to avoid any major incidents. In my time flying, the worst I’ve had was a scary moment during my PPL checkride. First takeoff of the day, examiner told me to do a soft field takeoff.

A soft field takeoff is practically wheelie down the runway, lift off ASAP, hold ground effect until you gain sufficient speed and then climb

During the wheelie, I thought I had lifted off and tapped the brakes to stop the wheels spinning. Turns out in all of my nerves, I actually had not lifted off and basically just pumped the brakes in the middle of my takeoff. Not a great start…

But I passed so it’s ok!


Dual Engine failure or “Your Gonna have to Sully it”

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I haven’t experienced it for real(fortunately… knocks on wood) but engine failure in a single engine airplane, even when it is simulated is super terrifying.

I’ve really wanted to go to KFLY for a while, seems like a nice little airport, but I definitely ain’t heading down there with the density altitudes you guys get in the summer.

Oh please, a DA of 9700’ never hurt anyone 😂

note: the above information is definitely not true

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I was returning to KOWD at night following an instrument training flight. I was laughing and having a good time with my instructor when we missed a good sized drone by about two feet off our left wing. We were doing about 110 knots true at the time, and I am fairly certain it would have rendered our left ailerons ineffective had it struck the wing directly. The local police got involved but I don’t think anything ever came of it.

A little later, same scenario, night time returning from an instrument flight with the same instructor. We lose comms and have to squawk 7600 and land. That one was more cool than scary because although we had a failure we were never in any real danger.

Nearly going of the runway due to left turning tendencies in a C172 on my discovery flight

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I remember once a Cessna 208 was like 500ft above us

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Scariest thing I think I’ve heard while flying was coming into the airport to land and the wind picked up to 37G52. Just a tiny bit too windy for the 152… the return flight back to our origin airport was quite fast though!

Few other “interesting” moments as well, but one from doing some time building during cross countries, the weather was marginal in the hilly terrain with peaks going through the clouds. Some strong winds came along and we got stuck in a down draft, full power, Vx and descending below the tops. Was an adventure to say the least! On top of that we missed our customs time heading back to Canada so had to hightail it to try and find a new landing airport that was open still as an airport of entry.


yeah, just a tiny bit


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Not my story but my close friends

A little bit of background we are both flight students and both 16, we have about 30 hours each and we fairly know what we are doing since we flown it for a while now.

Onto the story, so I had soloed a little bit before him and then it’s his turn, well the 172 he flies had a bit of a right brake issue but nothing to serious, (he also has a protective mom), but he goes to solo preflight this and that. He’s on his first touch down and his right brake fails on him sending him basically 90° To the left causing him to counter and do 180° to the right right into the grass. It’s also a very small airport and on one side there is a river and the other side the ramp and a whole bunch of planes.

I’ve yet to have such a scary moment besides me not hearing what tower said or me sending us into a tiny spin but that’s it.

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I remember once a 737 was 500ft above us. Good thing we crossed at a 90 degree angle.

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I have never had any serious technical problems. I have been caught out by weather once or twice, again nothing too serious but I learnt a lot from it.

Back in March we had to take the Cirrus to Gloucester for its Annual, so we where under some pressure to get it there. We had done a minimal amount of flight planning prior to the flight, had a quick check of the weather at Blackpool and Gloucester, both where adequate. Literally as we entered the runway at Blackpool some low level clouds started to move in from the North, we had not observed this before and only noticed it when Air Traffic asked if we where still happy to depart, and mentioned they where scattered at 300ft, we took the wrong decision to continue and departed from Blackpool. At around 300ft we entered the very thin layer of cloud and then broke out on top at around 400-500ft, the layer was not that large and only extended about 4-5 miles to the North of the airfield. We turned south and continued towards Gloucester, and remained below the higher broken layer which was at around 1500ft. After transiting Liverpool’s CTR we contacted Shawbury Zone, declared ourself IFR and climbed to 5000ft to get above the layer. We then received the Gloucester METAR through the Weather Datalink on the G1000, and was pretty shocked to see clouds broken at 400ft. We briefed for the RNP approach at Gloucester for runway 27, climbed to FL060 and got in touch with Gloucester Approach. Gloucester is a very busy GA airfield, so there was plenty of aircraft wanting to commence an instrument procedure, so we where instructed to hold over the GST beacon at FL050. After this we commenced the procedure and safely landed at Gloucester, after becoming visual with the runway at about 200ft above minimums.

Here is the track log from the flight.

All I can say is that this experience really proved to me how important preflight planning is and how dangerous being ‘lazy’ is, we have flown to Gloucester and back A LOT previously, so we where familiar with the routes etc. But we managed it quite well. Since this experience, I have properly prepared for each cross country flight, and I encourage people to not get ‘lazy’ with there flying, now matter how experienced you are.


Story Time,

Me and my friend were renting a Cessna 172, the flight was going well, but when my friend went to adjust the trim, it ran away, so we contacted chicago center and while my friend was looking for the nearest airport I told them we had a runaway trim, we landed at KDPA safely but it was very scary landing that plane because if the trim goes, I could stall out or worse, plummet into the ground.