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Heading Bug – What to Have Aboard

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June 2012

 “Ditch kits” are part of good flight planning, risk management

Anyone who has spent any time at all flying around in small airplanes has looked down and realized the immense distances below where there doesn’t seem to be much of anything. No people, no roads, no structures and no sign at all of the touch of the human hand. Meanwhile, we trained as students and as competent pilots continue to imagine what it would take to safely land our craft away from an airport. In those imaginings, we always survive.

But, to use my favorite phrase, what if ... there was no one around to congratulate us on our successful off-airport landing, and what if help—even if we were lucky and skillful enough to have avoided even slight injury—was hours away? What if night was falling, or rain; and there were spiders, or worse?

What should you have in your airplane—most, if not all of the time—just in case? Planning a recent flight at the comfort of my dining room table got me thinking about these things, as I hummed my emergency checklist to myself:


Airspeed—BEST GLIDE
Mixture—IDLE CUT OFF
Fuel—OFF
Master—OFF
Magnetos—OFF
Doors—UNLATCH

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