Aviation Stack Exchange

If you're a casual traveller like me, you've experienced a little turbulence here or there. Usually nothing so bad that you fear for you life and regret not packing a sickass, tiny parachute instead of that extra pair of cargo shorts that you KNEW you weren't gonna wear anways.

Well these 13 people faced what could have been their final day and came out the victors. Congrats, them. And for the rest of us, let's pray it continues to be smooth sailing from here on out. 

1. pitapitisgood's passengers have no idea they just escaped death.

Kinda related.

I used to do scenic flights out of a smaller airport. I had a total engine failure after takeoff one time in a single engine aircraft. Over the end of the runway the engine completely stopped. I was lucky enough to be at an airfield where I was able to make a small turn to land in a large enough field ahead. Once on the ground my foreign passengers (it was a 4 seater) casually asked "the flight is over already?" 

It could have easily ended in total disaster.

2. normanlee gives us the insider secrets about the mile-high club. Noice.

Girlfriend is a flight attendant, so I asked her for a few stories.

1) Upon landing, one of the tires blew out. It pretty much just resulted in a bigger jolt than usual, and although a few passengers commented on it, the crew just played it off as a more or less regular landing. Girlfriend: "What are you gonna do, tell everybody a tire just blew and get them all panicked?"

2) At least once a week, there's an armed, plainclothes federal air marshal riding on the plane, usually in first class. They're there as a security measure, in case the cockpit is breached or something. Even if people are aware that air marshals are a thing (usually portrayed in Hollywood as escorting a criminal), they don't realize the frequency with which the marshals ride along on planes.

3) A guy on the plane was from a connecting flight from a Eurasian airline, with a boarding pass under some other woman's name. The woman happened to be on the flight as well, so he obviously didn't belong. The guy could've stayed if he had just gone through TSA again, but he refused to go through the process and was very strongly insistent on talking to the captain directly (big red flag right there). No idea what the real story was--she believes that it was a foiled terrorism attempt--but the crew treated it as a simple duplicate boarding pass problem. Again, the problem was dealt with and you don't want to unnecessarily worry the passengers.

4) A lot of people try to join the mile-high club. Like, a lot.

3. MayDaze tells the tale of the brave cockroach who made it 10,000 feet in the air.

Cockroach in the cockpit. Redeye from LAX. One of us was strapped in while the other one hunted for the little fucker.

4. HardporeCornstar's story makes my heart race just reading it.

I'm a bush pilot in Canada. I was working the right seat of a Turbo Otter, my first ever flight in one so I was still getting used to the setup. We were taking off from a short strip in the middle of nowhere with 6 drillers in the back and a bunch of gear. Captain started the engine as I was just finishing up the passenger briefing. He started rolling down the runway as I was just getting seated. I thought he was just positioning the plane to prepare for takeoff, but then he gave it full throttle. I didn't even have my seat belt or headset on yet. I'm focusing on getting this stuff on when I realize something isn't right. Getting closer to the end of the strip, captain starts to panic as we aren't getting airborne (his hands were shaking like mad and he kept reaching for things but he couldn't figure out what was wrong, I think he was too busy looking at the trees and creek right ahead of us). I realized the problem, he was in such a rush to leave that he didn't do a pre-takeoff check. Propeller was still in full coarse (feathered on shut down), it should have been full fine for takeoff. I yelled/gestured to him the problem and immediately pushed the prop forward, engine had a huge surge and we just barely cleared the trees at the end of the strip. He acted like nothing happened for the rest of the flight. We didn't even speak a single word to each other. I suspect none of the passengers even realized what had happened and how close we were to being another statistic. When we got back to the airport I told him I was leaving, packed my bags and never looked back.

5. V1adTheInhaler describes the THING OF NIGHTMARES.

My dad had a wasp in the cockpit with him once, he said his first thought when he noticed it right after taking off was "oh, so this is how I die"

6. atashworth explains the dangers of tiny-ass birds.

I wasn't the crew on either, but my service had 2 pretty severe bird strikes within several weeks of each other. One was a hawk of some kind and the second was a duck. The duck strike happened with a patient loaded, evidently just as the pilot was flipping his NVGs up. The duck came through the windscreen and went to smithereens along with all the plexiglass. I helped clean up the back of the helicopter later, and it looked like a duck had swallowed a duck of lit dynamite. The strike also happened at the exact moment the med crew had pushed a medication that relaxes all the muscles in the patient's body (including breathing muscles), and in spite of the chaos they continued their procedure and successfully controlled the patient's airway. The pilot also continued the flight in spite of being covered in duck blood/guts/feathers, as well as his own blood from his broken nose. The crew (and the other birds strike crew) received commendations for their calm composure under the circumstances. 

It's pretty mind boggling the damage a several pound bird can inflict.

7. Cottonita should have told us the airport so we can all avoid this hell.

Not a pilot, but one of my buddies is. We were talking about one of the more remote airports that we'd both visited, located in a difficult place that has a lot of wind shear, so passengers are used to having the plane make a couple of attempts when landing. 

Anyway, my friend said the sensors for the landing gear malfunctioned, so he couldn't tell whether the wheels were down or if they'd gotten stuck. He flew low, made an announcement to the cabin that they needed to circle the runway because of the wind, and made a call to the control tower asking for someone to make a visual confirmation that the landing gear was fully deployed.

8. gnorty -- I was really hoping all the turbulence was being caused by the snack drawer somehow.

I used to do contracr maintenance work on aircraft, and once a bunch of us were returning from a job in Germany. The plane was a scheduled flight on a small (50 seat or so) turbo-prop aircraft, and it was a BUMPY flight.

I am fairly well travelled, and working on aircraft made me more confident than most of flying, but the turbulence started to get so bad that I was getting nervous. Nobody except the flight crew were allowed to unfasten their seatbelts, and even they were being thrown about as they tried to move around. It was by far the worst flight I have been on.

So anyway, just as things were getting to the peak of shittiness, one of the stewardesses made her way to one of my colleagues sitting across the aisle, and said, in a hushed tone "Excuse me sir, is it true that you guys are aircraft engineers? We have a slight problem out the back, and thought you might be able to help".

I honestly thought we were going to die. That the bumpiness was not down to turbulence, but some flight system had gone AWOL. I didn't know what the fuck any of us would be able to do on unfamiliar equipment with no documentation, no spares and no tools, but sure enough my colleague went off with the stewardess and disappeared through the door out of the cabin.

10 mins late he was back, and of course we were keen to know what the problem was and if he was able to do anything about it.

The "problem" turned out to be a ratchet strap on one of the cupboard doors in the galley was jammed so they couldn't get the snacks out! The flight continued to be horrible, and the snacks were predictably shit.

9. maniac109 -- small planes are always the scariest.

As a child, my family and I spent a few days in the Bahamas and as we were at the outdoor airport/single runway we discovered that we were flying an 8-seater single prop plane back to Florida. The first time taxiing down the runway, the pilots discovered something was wrong with the engine so they pulled off to the side and made us sit next to the plane as they attempted to fix the engine. After being told that the plane was functioning again, we boarded and began to taxi down the runway again. I was watching the pilot and co pilot do their thing when I notice the airspeed indicator dropped to 0 as we were about to lift off. At this point we were running out of runway and I watched as the co-pilot jabbed the non working gauge with his palm and the gauge began to work again. The pilots then looked at each other, back at us, then back at each other before laughing.

10. Whatsupwiththizat shares the story of the chillest passenger known to man.

I was flying a Piper Navajo that seats 8 passengers out of a small airport, we were making all of our required radio calls, but because this was a small uncontrolled airport some people in small airplanes will operate without radios or just dont care enough to broadcast their position. Anyway we were doing our due diligance but not long after take off and while leaving the traffic pattern my FO says "shit!" And takes control from me and make a relativley aggressive (for passengers at least) turn to the right. As he does this i see a cessna out my left window no more that 150 ft below us. We essentially climbed through the altitude he was crusing at and turned to avoid him. Only one passenger noticed when we got to the destination and he told us it was a "good move". 

Good times

11. deckle420's pilot KO'd the hell out of a hawk. 

It was a flight from Kansas to Oregon, and as we were midflight, a hawk fucking dive-bombed the wing and DENTED it. The pilot announced the subtle thud as minor turbulence, but the crew knew what had happened. No one knew how the hell the hawk was flying so high. It was a smaller plane, so we only had one and a half dozen people(not counting us crew members). The dent didn't actually meds with flight too much, but it's a hell of a story to tell.

12. Kdog0073 -- "Especially because I only have one of them"

I was giving my sister and a friend a tour of the Chicago skyline over Lake Michigan. We are all having a good time. Suddenly, the engine goes quiet... a nightmare especially because I only have one of them. The silence was noticeable and my sister starts looks at me and starts to panic. The engine comes back within about 3 seconds alive and well, and I head for the nearest airport.

In a small propeller plane, it is hard to hide the silence of the engine, but since it came back, I acted like nothing happened. I don't think they realize how critical of a situation it almost was.

13. earthroaming has given me something new to fear while flying in the winter.

As a kid (8-9) I flew in a small plane with my Air Force dad and his friend. We lived in Minot ND (big base there) and were flying sometime in winter. Later I learned we had such a long joy flight that day because the landing gear froze up, and we were flying around trying to get them to come down. As we were almost out of fuel they were planning to crash land on the Frozen River... When in the nick of time the landing gear unfroze and deployed. I had no idea though... It was beautiful flying above a winter wonderland.