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‘Can anyone fly a plane?’ Hobbyist pilot shows how you can land a jet in an emergency

How to Land a 737 (Nervous Passenger Edition) (v2.0)

“Is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?” is a line that’s only funny in the classic 1980 comedy, Airplane. To hear those words in real life at 30,000 feet would likely result in an immediate line for the bathroom, but the reality is that if both pilots fell ill or were incapacitated by laser beams or whatever, someone on board would have to try to bring the aircraft safely back to terra firma.

Imagining such a scenario, hobbyist pilot Tim Morgan has kindly knocked together an intriguing 10-minute video showing exactly what you’d need to do to land that great hulk of metal in the unlikely scenario that both pilots bite the dust and you’re called upon to do the deed.

Morgan made the video as a response to a question he read on Quora that asked, “What should I do if the pilot passes out and I (with no flight training) have to land the plane?”

Alongside his video, the hobbyist pilot responded, “The good news is the plane will probably have a sophisticated autopilot that can take care of most of the flying for you. The bad news is you will still probably have to land it, and every aircraft cockpit is going to be different, so it’s not like you’d know exactly where to look to find the things you need.”

In the case of Morgan’s video, you’ll have to hope the plane you’re on is a Boeing 737. The sequence, which uses this simulation software for Microsoft’s Flight Simulator X, puts you right there in the captain’s seat, surrounded by numerous knobs, dials, levers, and displays. The hobbyist pilot talks you through the different steps you’d need to take, explaining each one as you go, and also includes the kind of messages you’d likely hear from air traffic control.

Nightmare scenario aside, Morgan’s talk-through is as detailed as it is fascinating, and well worth a watch if you’ve ever wondered what’s going on up front in the final minutes before your plane’s wheels touch the runway.

[Correction: The original article stated that Tim Morgan is a Delta pilot. However, Mr. Morgan would like to point out that this is not the case. He is a hobbyist pilot with a commercial pilot certificate with multi-engine and instrument ratings. The article has been updated to reflect this information.] 

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
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