One point I’m drilling into my student is the idea of no matter what happens during the flight, you MUST always fly the plane first and foremost.
Even if it appears that your going to have an off airport landing for any reason, you must fly the plane all the way down and remain in control. Your odds of surviving are much higher if you remain in control of the aircraft.
While we we out practicing some ground reference maneuvers near the airport, we were monitoring the tower frequency for traffic alerts as it’s a high traffic area, we heard that there was a disabled aircraft on the runway. Uh oh. It was a great teaching moment on many accounts. First it showed the importance of teaching the student the need to be familiar with nearby airports in case that happens during any solo activity, especially the initial solo. They must be prepared to divert and I wouldn’t be doing my role as CFI if I didn’t prepare them for the unexpected.
It also pointed out the dangers a distraction can cause. After we landed we heard the full story from another pilot who witnessed everything first hand. The pilot of a Diamond aircraft had left a briefcase containing something valuable at the tiedown spot and declared so to the tower and needed to return. He was so distraught at the thought of losing it that he came in fast and hit hard on the nose wheel and according to the pilot the nosewheel left the aircraft and became disabled on the runway.
We heard the airport truck going out to the aircraft with a tow bar to tow it off the runway and it was soon reopened after the inspection by the truck driving down the runway. No injuries were reported which is always a good thing.
What do we learn? It’s a simple lesson but we must always be in command of the aircraft and fly it all the way to the ground and including the taxi to parking. A distracted pilot has brought down many planes including in 1972 Eastern Airlines 401 into the swamp over a landing gear light. No one on board was actively flying the plane and the crew allowed the problem of one simple light to engross them all to the point that they slowly descended into the swap.
FLY the plane
There are many things that can a distraction to us, but we are first and foremost Pilots, so lets fly the plane first and solve the problems later. We may have more time than we think we have in order to troubleshoot a situation or get our head together so we can land safely. After all isn’t that our responsibility as PIC?