LATER OR SOONER

 

Most people live, whether physically, intellectually or morally,
in a very restricted circle of their potential being.
They make use of a very small portion of their possible consciousness,
and of their soul’s resources in general.
Emergencies show how much greater our resources are than we had supposed.

William James

When I took primary glider training 42 years ago we discussed emergency procedures once, for a few minutes, but that was it. From there forward, while occasionally wondering what might really happen when ‘it’ hit the fan, I never did get around to procuring more dual.

As time goes on without an actual emergency, a peculiar thing happens. One part of the brain begins to assume it may never occur, gradually diminishing its importance — while another part continues to remind you that eventually it will happen, and each additional safe passage only brings that fateful reckoning one day closer.

My introduction to actual emergencies (like all my training beyond the absolute minimum) ultimately amounted to self-training. OJT, for better or worse. I was already a low-time instructor at that point, with two passengers in the back of a 2-32, and when I tried to open spoilers the handle wouldn’t budge. Turned out the guy on the port side was so big his leg prohibited even rotating the brake handle to unlock it.

Suddenly it was time to try a stunt I’d heard of but never witnessed, the infamous no-spoiler landing. Fortunately ’32s are plenty draggy and easy to land in any case, but they also happen to be very reluctant slippers… Having no choice, I mixed full left pedal with a little right stick to see how it would work. The airspeed indicator was rendered useless by sidewise airflow, but I had long since lost the habit of checking speed on final approach anyway. I just pushed over until it felt a bit too fast and then backed off slightly.

Steady, steady, and yes it worked out fine. Surprisingly easy in fact, but if we’d been in a hotter ship that first attempt might still be floating up the runway in ground effect.

So from that day on I’ve always placed special emphasis on training (myself and my students) for what could happen, because I now know it eventually will.
Since then I’ve experienced so many takeoff and landing emergencies that, though they’re never welcome, I have to admit they’re usually kind of fun!