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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Just because your engine dies doesn't mean you have to.

Among people who don't fly, there is a misconception that the only thing keeping an aircraft in the air is the engine. In reality, the plane stays in the air because of the wings, and all the engine really does is keep it there longer than it would have without an engine.

(Of course, glider pilots would argue that the engine doesn't even do that, since they have no engine and they routinely fly over 1000 miles in competitive events, which is hundreds of miles more range than the typical small Cessna/Piper/Beech.)

I created a short video a little while back to demonstrate this in action by turning off the engine completely in a simulated Cessna 172 over 8 miles from an airport and gliding it in the rest of the way:

As part of learning to fly, you learned (or will learn) your ABCs: Airspeed to best glide, Best field, Communicate, Checklist. Notice that the very first step is going to "best glide" airspeed, not "fall like a brick" airspeed. That's because engine or no engine, you are still flying the airplane! If you keep flying it, it will keep on flying for you.

If you don't believe me, there are two famous real-life airline events that did just that, but instead of gliding a measly 8 miles they both went over 70 miles in quiet comfort: Air Canada Flight 143 (probably better known as the "Gimli Glider") and Air Transat Flight 236. There was that little "Miracle on the Hudson" thing (which no one seems to call US Airways Flight 1549) back in 2009, too.

If you know someone who is afraid to fly because they "don't trust small planes", show them this post (or the video) and see if that doesn't change their mind a bit. While you're there, think about subscribing to my Larry the Flying Guy channel, too:

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