When I took primary glider training 47 years ago we discussed emergency procedures once, briefly, 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… (Still haven’t, truth be known.)

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 perceived importance, while another part periodically reminds you that something bad will eventually happen. And each additional safe passage only brings that fateful reckoning closer.

My introduction to actual emergencies (like all my training beyond the absolute minimum) amounted to self-training. OJT, for better or worse. I was already a low-time instructor, with two passengers in back of a 2-32 when I went to open spoilers and the handle wouldn’t budge. Turned out that 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 something 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 just pushed over until it felt a bit too fast, then backed off slightly.

Steady steady steady, and sure, it worked out fine. Surprisingly easy in fact, but in a slicker ship I might still be floating up the runway in ground effect, even now…

So from that day on I always emphasized preparing (myself and students) for what could happen, because chances are it eventually will. At this point I’ve experienced so many takeoff and landing emergencies that, though they’re never quite welcome, I have to admit they’re usually kind of fun!

Uh oh, now I’ll spend the rest of my life worrying that I’ve just conjured some kind of jinx…