Cary wrote:I think one of the most difficult things is to get beyond the "Nah, this can't be happening" stage.
I couldn't agree with you more. I've had 3 engine out landings, 800 agl, 300 agl, and 500 agl respectively. Different birds and different situations, but the fan on the front quit turning each time, dead stop, with no prior warning. The first time, I couldn't believe how strong the urge was to stay mentally stuck on, "I can't believe this is happening to me
." IMHO, the 30 seconds in the Sully example, or MarkGrubb's excellent point about not getting the nose down immediately, are a manifestation of spending those critical initial moments in disbelief (or trying to talk yourself out of the fact that things are as serious as they appear), which keeps you from being able to implement the emergency procedure you've thought about, talked about, and practiced over and over again. For most of us recreational pilots, there is always going to be a bit of a lag during which we wrap our brain around the fact that this emergency is actually happening. By practicing and thinking through these situations, my goal is to make that lag as short as possible, so I can go back to flying the plane and dealing with the situation I'm presented with. I think that knowing about this mental lag, and trying to shorten it as much as possible, helps a lot in dealing with these situations. Those few seconds may make all the difference. I emphasize this point because I was surprised at how powerful the feeling was, and it is not something anybody ever really told me in my training. Get through the incredulity as quickly as you can, so you can get back to dealing with the situation.
I also second MarkGrubb's advice about "AIRSPEED, AIRSPEED, AIRSPEED." When the real thing happened to me the first time, the subconscious urge to pull the airplane up away from the ground was surprisingly strong. I knew what airspeed I wanted, and I kept saying it out loud over and over while I was looking for a plowed field to land in. Every time I cross-checked my airspeed indicator though, I found I was bleeding off speed. Never underestimate the power of your subconscious to try and "help" you out by pulling back on the stick. AIRSPEED, AIRSPEED, AIRSPEED, then cross check, then check again. Without that, everything else becomes incidental pretty quickly.
Great thread--not just about turning back, but about training in general. Thanks to all you pros out there for sharing such quality advice with the rest of us.