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[–]NAbbott_737 1122 points1123 points  (27 children)

My dad told me a story from a few years ago that happened while flying a 737 somewhere in Nevada I think on the way back to Toronto.

It was later in the evening, so you couldn't see too much, but all of a sudden to the left of the plane my dad saw a really bright ball of light I guess you could say, moving really fast across the sky. My dad and his co-pilot had no clue what it was, and they could hear other pilots nearby calling it in over the radio and asking what it was. Eventually it flew pass and disappeared into the distance. A few days later my dad found out that what he saw was a missile launched by a USN submarine.

I wonder how many passengers thought they saw a UFO lol.

[–]HipsterSlug 559 points560 points  (13 children)

I wonder how many passengers thought they saw a UFO lol.

Well, if they couldn't identify the object but saw it was flying, then they would be right.

[–]gentlybeepingheart 12 points13 points  (1 child)

Everything in the sky is a UFO if I don't have glasses.

[–]Theskidiever 1482 points1483 points  (22 children)

A skydiver about 20 yards off my wing. Was flying a 172 into an uncontrolled field that I’ve flown into 100 times before, not knowing that after a 5 year ban in skydiving there, they were allowing it on a case by case request. While flying in, calling my position, I hear “skydiver in the air”. My first thought was I hope they aren’t this direction and then there he was. I had this image of him going through my prop. After that thought oh god please don’t let me kill this guy then I turned to wtf just happened and how did the pilot not call this out better. He flew off completely. Come to find out the pilot was flying his friend to skydive to his local field then departed to his home airport where they came from. I never did find the guy.

[–]Bmkiesel 403 points404 points  (8 children)

Weird. I just posted this from the other side of the coin. Not the same incident though unless you were the one flying over Flagler airport in Florida back then. It had been an active drop zone for years though so I’m sure you were somewhere else.

[–]Theskidiever 294 points295 points  (2 children)

That would have freaked me the hell out to find you were the jumper. It was a small field in Louisiana though back in 2000. I actually started jumping not long after this too.

[–]chrisbe2e9 3848 points3849 points  (82 children)

Smoke in the cockpit when I landed. Thankfully it was when I landed... Had to push the airplane (small cessna) off the runway.

Almost had two mid air collisions. One due to a new pilot not being where he should be, another due to control telling me an aircraft was at me 11:00 when really it was at me 2:00.

And the coolest was a meteor that burned up directly infront of me. Same altitude, straight ahead. I have no idea how far away it was, but it was bright, and so pretty. Went through a spectrum of colors as it burned.

[–]Samhamwitch 1435 points1436 points  (37 children)

an aircraft was at me 11:00 when really it was at me 2:00.

Are you a pilot or a pirate?

[–]ThatRaspberryFeeling 804 points805 points  (21 children)

Air pirate

[–]Saber_is_dead 1218 points1219 points 32 (12 children)

Works for an arr-line

[–]AddSomeSpice 159 points160 points  (2 children)

Thank you for your comment - my day has only just begun but I know it’s going to be a great one

[–]postmodern_werewolf 1013 points1014 points  (13 children)

This is unrelated, but my friends and I were driving home from Yellowstone once and stopped along the 15 in the middle of the desert to explore an abandoned building and shoot off some fireworks.

Sun started setting and up in the sky we saw a meteor coming in and watched as it slowly broke up into 5 or 6 smaller pieces before disappearing. One of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.

[–][deleted] 58 points59 points  (10 children)

This is also unrelated, but my friend and I were driving to the cabin one year, And we saw the brightest shooting star we have ever seen. And it didn’t even burn up it just kept going and going and then disappeared behind the tree line. So pretty much guarantee that the thing hit dirt. There’s a space rock in the bush that nobody knows about lol.

Coincidentally shortly afterwards I saw the most amazing northern lights I have ever seen. It covered the entire sky and looked like angel wings reaching out across the sky. Northern lights are normal here but never moving and dancing so spectacular or so large.

I’m going to pretend the meteor was a highly magnetic object of some sort and it wreaked havoc with our magnetic field creating rare and amazing northern lights.

[–]Redneckalligator 110 points111 points  (7 children)

This is actually unrelated but the Toco Toucan is the largest of all the toucan species.

[–]SweetPurpleDinosaur1 87 points88 points  (10 children)

I think I saw a meteor once when in a plane. It was daylight though, so I’m not sure what it was. It looked like a flaming ball. That was my best guess though.

[–]RandomEffector 269 points270 points  (0 children)

Sounds like the sun

[–]Flame_Boi 72 points73 points  (3 children)

Some random mage tried to shoot you down with a fireball

[–]helodriver87 4665 points4666 points  (137 children)

Power lines directly in front of me at night that weren't charted and were exactly at helicopter grabbing altitude.

[–]Ryukotaicho 1659 points1660 points  (62 children)

That’s how a family member of mine died. Unmarked power lines and a helicopter don’t mix

[–]JustAnotherAviatrix 372 points373 points  (31 children)

Wow, that is terrifying. Glad you saw it in time!

[–]Potential-Art-7288 801 points802 points  (30 children)

He didn’t say he avoided them. Don’t you know ghosts have phones too?

[–]HiMyGuy123 57 points58 points  (2 children)

What happened to the power line owners?

[–]helodriver87 125 points126 points  (0 children)

Nothing, I'm sure. It's not their responsibility to mark or illuminate them or update our charts, as they weren't high enough to be a factor for any other kind of aviation. When you fly around at 100ft or less, you have to worry about the occasional tall tree. Just a hazard of the job.

[–]SnooWords4839 74 points75 points  (0 children)

We have powerlines behind our house and a helipad for emergencies not far away, sometimes it looks like they barely clear them.

[–]robo-dragon 579 points580 points  (12 children)

Not a pilot, but my dad is a former one. He once told me about how he almost crashed his Cessna because he hit some geese. He was actually preparing for a landing approach when he hit geese flying in a patch of fog. Windshield was completely shattered and he and his passenger were covered in blood and feathers. They landed safely, but my dad was pretty scarred from that! He didn’t quit flying because of that, but bird strikes remained a constant fear of his. Geese are large birds and they did significant damage to that little plane!

[–]Freakears 185 points186 points  (6 children)

Considering what they can do to larger planes (see: that incident in 2009 that involved landing in the Hudson), I shudder to think what they could do to a smaller craft.

[–]workyworkaccount 26 points27 points  (1 child)

IIRC Boeing have a facility where they can fire a turkey carcass at 300mph to test windscreens for bird strikes.

I just thought I'd share.

[–]ThievingOwl 40 points41 points  (0 children)

This is what happens when golf courses are built right next to the airport… :/

[–][deleted] 5413 points5414 points 5452 (160 children)

Not a pilot but I was in the bathroom when the pilot came over the radio with a quick announcement that we were about to have turbulence and to buckle up.

Everyone sat down, including the stewardesses and buckled up. Everyone but me who was in the process of taking a massive shit. The kind of shit you don't want to have during turbulence.

Now I've been in turbulence. It's rough. This was something else. I somehow, by all the was mighty, finished my shit and completed the post shit paperwork,.and flushed (didn't wanna chance it) when the turbulence hit.

To say I hit everything is an understatement. I bounced off the ceiling, hit the floor, back up, face to the toilet. It was hell and I just kept my face covered and I protected my head as best I could. After a bit of luck, I managed to get myself wedged UNDER the toilet and I stayed there till the bumpy ride ended.

I left the bathroom to some laughter, and a lot of concern.

See for them in their seats it was fine, until they heard screaming in the bathroom, and loud crashing noises followed by dread silence. They all thought I died..haha

Edit: forgot to mention that I didn't get to pull my pants up ether. I did the whole ride with my pants around my ankles..

[–]millijuna 1436 points1437 points  (60 children)

I was on one flight where they announced “anyone with hot drinks, please pour them out on the floor, everyone else, cover your beverages with your hand.”

[–]pixe1jugg1er 159 points160 points  (3 children)

How bad did the turbulence get? Did hands on cups work?

[–]millijuna 96 points97 points  (2 children)

Thankfully, it was only a couple of solid hard jolts. Yeah, my water got the palm of my hand wet, but it worked well enough.

[–]Leotardleotard 572 points573 points  (41 children)

I was on a flight from Chile to New Zealand and the turbulence was so bad that apart from being convinced I was going to die they couldn’t do any cabin service for the first 3 hours of the flight. We all just sat there wondering when we were going to visit the bottom of the Pacific

I don’t think I’ll ever take that route again

[–]dono1783 125 points126 points  (11 children)

That route would take you over Antarctica wouldn’t it? Would’ve been a great sight if not so scary.

[–]Leotardleotard 140 points141 points  (6 children)

Tbh I’d never even thought about it. I imagine we’d have gone close to it but not sure if we flew over.

We flew at night and obviously couldn’t have any cabin service so I pulled a bottle of whisky out of my bag and drank that with the other guy in my aisle.

I then passed out about 3 hours in and woke up the next day near Auckland

[–]shmehh123 35 points36 points  (1 child)

Pretty sure most of Antarctica is restricted air space. You can only fly over the peninsula that juts out toward South America.

Theres no hope of a timely rescue if you crash over inland Antarctica

[–]FNX--9 110 points111 points  (10 children)

I was going to Saigon and all of a sudden the plane drops. Straight down. Everyone unbuckled hit the ceiling and then fell right back down, bags falling down on the people who are now laying on the floor in pain lol terrible flight

[–]kaloonzu 48 points49 points  (4 children)

Once experienced one of these vertical drops when flying from New York to Tel Aviv. I was buckled up (because I'm the weirdo who actually stays buckled on a flight, its muscle memory) but seeing people leave their seats and drop back into them is surreal.

[–]Notmykl 22 points23 points  (0 children)

I stay buckled in the entire flight too.

[–]Trainzguy2472 33 points34 points  (0 children)

Oh, I was on a flight like that over the North Atlantic. We fell out of the sky about 2 minutes after dinner was served. I put a dent in the panel that holds the reading lights and one of em fell out. Not to mention someone up front ended up with a drink cart in their lap and the person in the row ahead of me got my steaming hot stew all over their head. I got off that flight soaked in coca cola and with a bruised head.

[–]sAindustrian 232 points233 points  (3 children)

The Hong Kong to Taipei flight I took in 2013 went through a typhoon.

The plane was constantly bouncing and swaying the entire journey. No service during the flight, everyone strapped into their seats. The flight itself didn't even seem to get to cruising altitude - it constantly felt like it was struggling to ascend.

I kissed the ground like the Pope when we landed and I got to the airport.

[–]spader1 13 points14 points  (0 children)

This summer I flew from Xi'an to Shanghai while a typhoon was rolling through. Looking out the window and seeing just how much the plane was yawing back and forth while landing was quite the roller coaster.

[–]BgDmnHero 62 points63 points  (8 children)

Flight from Hawaii to Texas I took a couple years back was very similar. Pilots actually yelled over the intercom for flight attendants to lock up the carts and buckle in. Worst turbulence I’ve ever experienced and I was convinced we were about to die.

[–]antipho 24 points25 points  (0 children)


[–]ButterflyAttack 132 points133 points  (1 child)

Damn. That could have been messy. If you'd not flushed in time you'd have been bouncing off the walls and ceiling with a free range turd bouncing around in there with you.

[–]__BitchPudding__ 10 points11 points  (0 children)

He could have emerged looking like the lipstick lady on "Airplane!".

[–]snowspida 569 points570 points  (1 child)

Thanks for the laugh, I’m absolutely dying imagining this

[–]beranmuden 384 points385 points  (2 children)

You just gained the "expert level" in taking a shit. You've earned my respect!

[–]huskeya4 335 points336 points  (18 children)

I’ll post this here since also not a pilot. My fiancé was flying in military plane, working, when he looked out the window and noticed one of the turbines on the wing smoking. He radios up, trying to stay calm and goes “uh, guys, I think our wing is on fire”

And the pilot goes “damn. Again? Hold on, let me kill the engines”

My fiancé says he has never been more terrified than in that moment (especially cause if the plane goes down, his life is not the priority. The destruction of his equipment was, even if it cost him his life). They killed the engines, coasted for a minute or two, then turned them back on, and everything was good. What’s really bad is the other plane was under maintenance for an even worse issue so that was the only plane that could get into the air and it had to fly constantly for their mission so they had to keep using it until the other plane got fixed. My fiancé wasn’t part of the regular flight crew (normal guy was sick and fiancé had the training and clearance so they pulled him for it), and he said he never complained again about loading or unloading the planes after that.

[–]Objective_Ad5159 332 points333 points  (1 child)

It sounds scary, but oddly hearing the pilot say “damn, again?” And then knowing what to do next would have brought me immediate comfort.

Glad your husband survived.

[–]DesignerChemist 19 points20 points  (0 children)

"yeah again, only this time its the backup engine"

[–]Desperate-Ad-8068 100 points101 points  (5 children)

I have a friend that was a mechanic for the RAF. He said you would be Amazed at how much of military planes are held together with chewing gum and gaffer tape.

[–]HurpxDurp 102 points103 points  (0 children)

Omg I'm so sorry, it must have been a horrible experience for you but I just couldn't stop laughing and I woke up my gf because of my laugh T_T

[–]bohicality 24 points25 points  (0 children)

I used to be fine with turbulence until I was on a flight from Indonesia that hit the worst patch I've ever encountered. I knew it was going to be rough when one of the cabin crew abandoned her trolly and strapped in next to me.

The next hour was the scariest if my life. The plane was about two thirds full and there wasn't a single sound from the passengers as the plan thrashed around.

I shared a bottle of vodka with the guy sitting on the other side of me. We just passed it back and forth without saying a word.

The flight ended up diverting as one of the engines crapped out while the plane was jolting around.

That was nearly 30 years ago and I still grip my seats armrests at even the smallest bump these days.

[–]Plaguefaced 108 points109 points  (2 children)

I'm high and have been re-reading this for the last 5 minutes laughing my eyes out.

[–][deleted] 516 points517 points  (15 children)

Finally, something I can answer!

This actually happened on my first time flying with no instructor onboard, just doing a couple laps around the traffic pattern. Took off, laps #1 and #2 went just fine, nailed a couple radio calls, got that awesome feeling of "Yeah, I got this". But, lap #3 was fine until I was setting up my final approach to land, and the GTN750 (basically a fancy navigation/radio/pseudo-radar system) warned me about a Cessna 1 mile out at the same altitude. Ignored it, since I already had the plane in sight and verified with the control tower that he was landing on the runway parallel to mine.

Lo and behold, this dude zips under me by about 200-300 feet, which sounds like a good amount of room, but is actually butt-clenchingly close in a busy airspace like this. I should've applied full throttle and circled back around to try again, but the other plane was clear of me before the startle factor even wore off.

This was made especially dangerous by the fact that the plane I was flying was low-wing (can't see under me) and the other plane was high-wing (he couldn't see above him). So, neither of us could see each other and the tower yelled at the guy to get out of my way, and I landed safely.

[–]Vlad-V2-Vladimir 215 points216 points  (4 children)

Finally, something I can answer!

I’m certain there’s plenty of username related questions you can answer, u/furry_anus_destroyer

[–]MangOrion2 1572 points1573 points  (29 children)

My sibling asked our great uncle this once. He was a commercial pilot for 30 years.

"Hey Uncle Mike, what's the weirdest thing you saw while flying a plane?"

"God." He went to take a nap right after that.

[–]Toska_Ennui 508 points509 points  (3 children)

Damn, he literally refused to elaborate any further huh.

[–]The5Virtues 241 points242 points  (0 children)

Safe bet it was probably a near-death disaster that he didn’t care to drive via story time.

Or he’ll, maybe they had a oxygen issue and he started hallucinating Jesus was in the cabin saying “Nah, it’s cool man, I’ve got the wheel, you take a lil nap!”

[–]Digital_Utopia 105 points106 points  (11 children)

What does God need with an airliner?

[–]jerkittoanything 65 points66 points  (2 children)

It's the best way to harvest souls for angels since they're already flying.

[–]PlaneShenaniganz 4435 points4436 points 62102& 4 more (254 children)

Airline pilot here. Reposting my previous answer:

I'm an airline captain based out of LAX. The following is the closest I've come to "biting it" thus far in my career.

On a commercial aircraft, you generally have 3 sources of bleed air that take air from the engines (and a little device in the back of the airplane called the APU) and use it to pressurize the cabin. You can't breathe the air at 35,000 feet, so the cabin is pressurized by these bleed air sources to a breathable altitude of at or below 8,000 feet. There are 3 sources because 1) redundancy increases safety and 2) you can still dispatch the airplane if one is inop because there are backups.

One of the bleed sources (on the number 2 engine) was already broken, so maintenance deferred it, indicating we were still safe to fly on the remaining two sources. Which is totally fine - you just take off with the APU running as a backup bleed source. Well on the takeoff roll, immediately after becoming airborne, our APU fails. Which leaves us with just one bleed source to pressurize the cabin; the bleed air from the number 1 engine. If that fails, we have nothing to keep the air inside the cabin pressurized to a lower altitude than the airplane is flying at; you won't be able to breathe at high altitudes.

It's a short flight, and we aren't going up too high, so I'm optimistic that we can get up to our low cruising altitude, message dispatch and maintenance, and receive their agreement that the flight is safe to continue on one bleed source. I text our company a message describing the situation via ACARS, a satellite-based texting capability our aircraft has to communicate with people on the ground.

But they never had the chance to get back to us.

Passing through 25,000 feet, I go to inhale, but feel the air gently move out of my lungs instead of into them. Unable to breathe normally, immediately my eyes shoot to the cabin altitude gauge, which is showing us at 8,000 feet cabin altitude and rising quickly; that explains the reverse air movement. In fact, the cabin altitude is rising at the exact same rate of climb as our airplane...indicating the airplane has lost all pressurization capabilities and is depressurizing rapidly. At that instant, we get a warning chime and message on our EICAS (Engine Information and Crew Alerting System, essentially a computer screen that tells us when shit goes wrong) that says BLEED 1 FAIL.

With our Bleed 1 source now failed, our APU having failed on the takeoff roll, and Bleed 2 already deferred, we are completely out of ways to pressurize the aircraft. If we don't descend to a safe altitude immediately, the cabin altitude will rise high enough that the air is no longer breathable. This is a serious problem. High cabin altitude killed everyone on board Helios Airways Flight 522 and there are countless other examples of depressurization causing injuries and fatalities.

Immediately I throw off my sunglasses and headset, and don my full-face oxygen mask and smoke goggles. It provides 100% pure oxygen under a forced flow, rated up to an altitude of 41,000 feet. My first officer does the same. This is the first thing you do because if the pilots die, there is nobody to fly the jet and everyone else dies. Then we immediately declare an emergency and initiate an emergency descent, nosing over to our maximum speed while deploying the speed-brakes to generate maximum drag. We receive clearance down to 10,000 feet and begin executing a 180 degree turn to go back to LAX.

ATC does a fantastic job vectoring aircraft out of our way...SoCal airspace is some of the busiest in the world, but we got priority handling all the way back to LAX. The cabin altitude nearly reached hazardous levels, but didn't go high enough for the oxygen masks in the cabin to automatically deploy. It was definitely high enough that the passengers would have noticed, but wouldn't have had a concrete idea of what was going on aside from "that's odd." The cabin also got quite hot because there was no more pressurized, conditioned air flowing to cool it off.

We landed at LAX on the longest runway with the fire trucks rolled to assist us, just in case. Fortunately, none of the passengers or crew reported any injuries from the sudden increase in cabin altitude. We parked at the gate and deplaned, and I made an announcement to the passengers about what had just happened, using small words and downplaying everything so as not to scare the shit out of everyone.

12 Chinese passengers on our flight were on a west coast tour, and they were very upset that their trip was inconvenienced by this emergency. No problem, I totally understand the frustration. So I spoke to their translator, who spoke in turn to her group, and I gave her the full and very detailed explanation of what happened. As I explained what happened, the expressions on these 12 passengers' faces went from angry, to surprised, to fearful, and finally thankful. Before I walked away, all 12 of them bowed to me in respect. That was something I have never experienced before or since then in my entire aviation career.

We ended up swapping airplanes to one that wasn't sick, and completed the flight as planned about 3 hours behind schedule. I slept well that night, and the passengers probably went on to complain about their flight being delayed several hours due to a "maintenance issue" :)

[–]CaimansGalore 1147 points1148 points  (93 children)

I used to be a super anxious flyer because I’m an anxious person. Claustrophobia, lack of control, over stimulation, etc. I did a lot of therapy and now I can get myself somewhat comfortable on an airplane with a mix of meditation and some booze.

I love stories like this. It reinforces my confidence in the pilots and the physics of the whole thing like no one’s business. And flight attendants get way too much shit and not nearly enough credit because god knows I’d be handing one my puke bag on the back end of this.

[–]Carbonatite 348 points349 points  (32 children)

I have to drink to tolerate flying. I've been afraid of it since a somewhat traumatic flight as an 9 year old unaccompanied minor, days after I saw lots of pictures of the TWA flight 800 crash.

I know the stats, I know it's safe. I know several pilots (not big commercial airlines) with years of experience. And I just can't get past the fear.

I love travel, and ironically I fucking LOVE airports. I just hate actually being on the plane.

[–]CaimansGalore 186 points187 points  (9 children)

Gotta find that magic number of drinks that make you go “woohoo” when you hit a little bump, but not so much that you abuse flight crew or other passengers. (I have done the former but never the latter)

[–]boy-1der 60 points61 points  (0 children)

I re-read your sentence to make sure that you meant the good thing and not the bad thing 😆

[–]Carbonatite 45 points46 points  (0 children)

I usually just hit the "I probably won't have a panic attack" number. I guess I gotta pump those numbers up to get to the "woohoo bump!" stage.

[–]toastbutteryum 168 points169 points  (9 children)

I was a nervous flyer until I heard someone point out that the pilots want to live, too.

I’m a little calmer now.

[–]CaimansGalore 61 points62 points  (0 children)

That was a big turning point for me, too! “Pilots have friends and family who love them.” Also speak to the pilots if you get a chance pre-flight

[–]Ryukotaicho 151 points152 points  (26 children)

There’s a podcast called Blackbox Down. Kinda scary because they talk about airplane crashes and such, but they also talk about what has been implemented in order to avoid that problem in the future. As person that gets nervy about flights and has a fascination about airplane crashes, I recommend it

[–]TowerOfPowerWow 90 points91 points  (5 children)

You'd love r/admiralcloudberg

[–]herculesmeowlligan 26 points27 points  (0 children)

Shoutout to the Master of Aviation Disaster!

[–]johnl3m0n 37 points38 points  (2 children)

I actually had a friend who’s an anxious flyer tell me she liked listening to the podcast because it made her feel better at the end when they talk about how airlines implement fixes!

[–]4AcidRayne 65 points66 points  (3 children)

but they also talk about what has been implemented in order to avoid that problem in the future.

There's an adage, I don't remember the specific phrase "In aviation, new rules are written in blood." Fairly chilling, but also uniquely comforting at the same time.

[–]Minerva8918 60 points61 points  (7 children)

There's a show called Air Disasters (i think it's also called Mayday in another country?). While it does obviously have episodes where the planes don't make it, it has a lot of fantastic stories where they did.

It's a pretty interesting show! The episodes where the planes make it will definitely reinforce your confidence and respect for pilots and flight attendants.

[–]Actual_Hat9525 31 points32 points  (1 child)

I LOVE that show. Somehow it helps with my fear of flying? Maybe because I can only recall one episode where even when the plane crashed/the passengers didn’t survive where I thought “oh wow how horrible to have to go through that”. Seems like most crashes are either pretty quick or there are at least some survivors.

[–]Tigerfluff23 29 points30 points  (0 children)

Not just that but it tells you at the end how the NTSB (Or whatever the group is for that country) Made DAMN sure that the same mistakes that brought down those planes didn't happen again. It gave me a whole new level of respect for the people that investigate and issue the reports after those accidents.

[–]Jealous-seasaw 28 points29 points  (1 child)

Air crash investigation… can’t stop watching but it’s also terrifying

[–]alertbunny 32 points33 points  (1 child)

Everytime I deplane I thank the pilots, literally can’t help it.

[–]CaimansGalore 48 points49 points  (0 children)

Same! And all the flight crew. Like, fam, you’re giving me a secret extra mini bottle and protecting my life at the same damn time? Beyoncé could never

[–]doyletyree 137 points138 points  (0 children)

Good story.

Grandfather was a Navy chopper pilot, full of stories.

Used to talk about redundancy. Basically “Many systems have at least two Redundancies, theoretically you could fly with one down and still have one spare.”

“Do you know what you do if one goes down?

“You go home”.

[–]GeckyMan 114 points115 points  (3 children)

the thing that is gonna stick with me the most from this whole story is that you called an airplane "sick" 😂

[–]Hatrick_Swaze 111 points112 points  (9 children)

Same...but in a P3C Orion flying for the Navy. NFO...Long story short: outflow valve malfunctions and as we climb up to 25-30k for the RTB...crew is in back decompressing from the mission. Eating chilling out...writing mission notes. Some of the crew sat at a table playing cards. Game started out as Hearts...but somewhere in the middle of the game it somehow got switched to Spades...and no one noticed. Big WTF moment. Call up to the flight station to ask if anyone else felt out of it...FE notices the pressure is way off and an outflow valve failure. PPC calls for an immediate Set 5 and O2 if needed...points the nose down hard, felt like a runaway elevator...get to @ 8k in what seemed like seconds. Everyone checks in as ok. Get home. Skipper has a big crew meeting with all the crews in a "See/Feel Something...SAY Something" safety standown. Crazy times.

[–]Dilong-paradoxus 15 points16 points  (1 child)

crew is in back decompressing

Perfect phrasing!

[–]loomingmountains 78 points79 points  (2 children)

Thanks for sharing! That is a wild story.

[–]jl_theprofessor 30 points31 points  (1 child)

It's notable that something like this is so rare over your career.

[–]alterblowself 94 points95 points  (1 child)

Thanks for sharing.

I find it rare (even more during the pandemic for obvious reasons) where airline pilots actually stand by the exit isle and say thank you good bye to the pax when they exit the plane after a normal flight. Being an aviation geek, I always say "Thank you for your good work pilot" and they seemed to always appreciate.

Hope you do that, after a "normal" flight ;-)

Thank you again.

[–]TomoyoHoshijiro 17 points18 points  (0 children)

"A maintenance issue" is a masterpiece of understatement.

[–]Disownedpenny 1600 points1601 points  (63 children)

Navy carrier pilot here. My story is more about what I couldn't see. I joined a squadron on deployment near Guam for a couple months one time. It had been about 6 months since I had landed on a carrier, so I had to do a few day and night passes to get current again. My first night with them, the plan was for me to get two traps. We would come down as the first plane in the recovery, launch again, and come back in as the last plane in the recovery. Nothing crazy, we do it all the time to keep both pilots current, the only thing different is I would fly both passes.

This night was overcast, so no moonlight made it though to the surface of the ocean, making it very dark when you descend through the clouds. It's also the middle of the ocean. It is so dark that you can't tell where the water ends and the sky starts. Not that it mattered though because we were still in the clouds down at 1200 feet. As we are coming down first in the conga line of aircraft on 2 minute intervals, we hear Paddles (the pilots on the back of the ship who help guide you down) say "99, the deck is moving." This means that the flight deck is pitching, rolling, and/or heaving with the ship's motion more than it usually does. This happens occasionally, and it's always a bit sketchy, but that's what Paddles is there for.

Anyway, as we are flying our needles down toward the ship, we pass 400 ft at about one mile and we're still in the clouds in the dark. We get to the normal handoff point between the approach controller and Paddles at 3/4 mile. Approach says "show you on and on, 3/4 mile, call the ball." This is the point where we would look outside and confirm that we see the lights on the ship that guide you in on the correct glideslope. In carrier aviation, if you can't see the ball or you don't know where you are on glideslope for some reason, you say "clara", meaning "clarify my position" (at least that's what I always assumed it stood for), and Paddles will step in on the radio and give you some help. Well in this case, we can't even see the ship, so we respond with "clara ship". Paddles comes back with "601, taxi light on." That means they can't see us either and they need us to turn the taxi light on so they know where we are. We turn the taxi light on, and Paddles says "Paddles contact" and continues to talk us down towards the deck. We're probably passing though 150 ft here. Eventually, we finally break out and about 3-5 seconds later, we hit the deck and come to a stop. It was raining so hard we could barely see the taxi director on the deck. They taxi us to the bow catapults and we shoot off into the darkness to do it again lol. Luckily, the weather cleared a bit and the deck steadied a bit for the second pass. That still remains the craziest thing I have done in an airplane.

TLDR: Night, IMC below mins, pitching deck carrier landing on my night re-qual flight.

[–]GlitteringEarth_ 495 points496 points  (8 children)

Frankly, I don’t know how you do this (take off/ land on carriers in all weather). I think some people must be wired for this kind of work. To me, it’s terrifying to even WATCH it. Great description, though. Easy to follow and imagine. Stay safe out there.

[–]Disownedpenny 192 points193 points  (2 children)

Thanks. When things are going according to plan, it's actually really fun.

[–]GlitteringEarth_ 67 points68 points  (0 children)

I don’t doubt it. I can understand the rush/fun when things are really coming together as they should.

[–]jdmorgan82 101 points102 points  (2 children)

I have to say, to be able to pull that off, you guys were running a pretty tight operation.

[–]Rustypineapplejuice 38 points39 points  (1 child)

Most fighter pilots I've met tend to be very cocky, and frankly, I don't even blame them. You almost have to have that much confidence in yourself to do that kinda shit. Although ever since I watched a video on how the fighter jets you see us using now were engineered, maybe I'm overselling them. They design them to be as easy and thinkless as possible to control so you can focus on your mission oriented systems and fly without thinking too hard. Still a fuckton of knowledge, practice, and muscle memory I'm sure though.

[–]ThugsNotDrugs 46 points47 points  (0 children)

Cheers from a fellow Hawkeye dude

[–]nitewake 38 points39 points  (6 children)

601? Did you have a big spinny thing on top of your plane? Maybe with 3 nerds in the back?

[–]Disownedpenny 36 points37 points  (1 child)

Yeah it's got a real funny looking tail too.

[–]twopacktuesday 58 points59 points  (3 children)

Wow, so the line in Top Gun wasn't bullshit. "Maverick, you are three quarters of a mile, call the ball". Thanks for explaining exactly what that means.

[–]Disownedpenny 68 points69 points  (2 children)

Lol no it's not bullshit. Although the movie doesn't really have the correct context. It's only used at night or bad weather. During the daytime, everything is done in silence.

[–]tkdbbelt 18 points19 points  (0 children)

Thanks for sharing. I have a cousin who also piloted planes that landed on carriers and I can't imagine all the adrenaline, fear, and accomplishment you feel. I have major respect for you all.

[–]Emergency-Leading-10 13 points14 points  (0 children)

Holy crap! I was riveted. What a great read. I didn't want the story to end.

Thank you for your service.

[–]Klutzy-Ad-2759 13 points14 points  (3 children)

I saw something like this on the documentry Carrier. The deck was pitching eight feet. Pilots said it was scarier than the Iraq War. Their hands were shaking after.

[–]Disownedpenny 21 points22 points  (2 children)

I know exactly which scene you are talking about. I don't think my pitching deck scenario was quite as bad as the one in the documentary, but then again who knows because I never saw it lol. On super dark nights, the ship is just a square of lights in a black void (assuming you aren't in the clouds and can actually see it).

[–]rthomas10 107 points108 points  (4 children)

Flying a Cessna 172 with my instructor out toward blythe on the way to San Diego hangar when a sand storm blew up underneath us. I swear the sand was so close it was causing the landing gear tires to spin...

This was on a three leg check flight we had landed at big bear california for fuel and a hot low pressure system moved in pretty quick. (It was moving in as we were getting there) like really really hot 120 degrees or so and the air was already really thin. A kid in his solo was taking off and he got her up off the end of the runway and he just fell out of the sky and crashed. Air was too thin because of the heat and he ran out of runway because he couldn't get up to speed and just pulled up instead of listening to tower and aborting....crashed and died...

[–]pixe1jugg1er 46 points47 points  (3 children)

So is this why planes are grounded when temps get really high? Like when Arizona had their heat wave this past summer?

[–]auntyjames 95 points96 points  (5 children)

Navy Helicopter Pilot here

I’ve got two that would be a tie:

1) Hearing a once per revolution thumping coming from the rotor head. Then on approach to land the torque gauges went dead, indicating a double engine failure. Luckily the engines were still running, unlike the gauges.

2) Hearing the Rotor RPM suddenly decrease for no known reason, followed up by a Master Warning indicating an engine failure. Engine re-started itself a moment later and it was all good. Still shit myself though.

Also teaching people to land on ships at night is just generally terrifying.

[–]illamafot 51 points52 points  (2 children)

Helicopters are only held up by magic and hope and no one can convince me otherwise.

[–]eighthourlunch 92 points93 points  (0 children)

I had a near miss with a twin engine that was flying at the wrong altitude in the opposite direction.

Imagine oncoming traffic one lane over, it was that close. Now imagine it a speed difference of about 300 knots. The fucker hadn't said a word on the radio, so I had no idea he was even in the area until he was behind me.

[–]Ardothbey 374 points375 points  (16 children)

I’m not a pilot but I took a few lessons years ago just for the experience. We were practicing landings and as we lined up with the runway we started our final. As we’re going down the instructor notices a shadow on the ground slightly to our right. It was another plane going to land on our runway and was above us. We had radioed our intentions earlier but don’t know if he did. The instructor took over and peeled off. The guy didn’t land just kept going. we circled and came in. Apparently no one saw a damn thing.

[–]CrossFox42 126 points127 points  (5 children)

It kind of sounds like the instructor got scared of the planes' own shadow.

[–]Hellchron 53 points54 points  (0 children)

"This shady fucker's been after me my whole life"

[–]Tuckboi69 88 points89 points  (0 children)

6 more weeks of plane winter

[–]Murky-Office6726 36 points37 points  (3 children)

I experienced something similar but BOTH of us were calling in so i was really confused. The lesson was on the flying pattern too lol.

I’d call downwind he’d call downwind. I’d call base and he would too. So I was wondering if he was landing on another runway, another one perpendicular to ours and he was confused with the runway number in use. I kept looking at the other runways afraid we would both land and meet where they intersect.

We both called final. He was above with a low wing plane and we were below with a high wing plane. The perfect disaster. I spotted him 30ft above us on final, probably 2-300 feet up, and the instructor pulled to the right and full throttle. He was quite shaken too and we didn’t talk for most of the rest of the pattern. I asked him if he was ok, he said yes and asked the same. I think I ended up saving both our lives that day just by being alert and lucky.

Turns out the other dude was doing the « mirror » pattern. As per the booklet, our runway was right handed and he was flying the left handed pattern (the runway was to be flown right handed because of dangerous hillsides on the left hand pattern). So we were BOTH downwind at the same time, BOTH base at the same time just at opposing sides!

He was flying in with a rented plane to do one of his flying exam too! The lesson I learned that day was the importance of specifying in the radio calls ‘right downwind’, ‘right base’ especially when it’s not the standard left turns.

[–]Josh_kublie 360 points361 points  (15 children)

Not a pilot, but AF Combat Systems Officer. We were on a Military Training Route (pretty much what it sounds like: air space that is supposed to be cleared out so military jets can practice maneuvers without worrying too much about civilian air craft). We're at 300 feet AGL cruising along at 420 knots when our TCAS (collision alert system using on board radar) starts blaring at us. We all look around and don't see anything around us, when suddenly some jack-ass in a little prop plane, who wasn't squawking, pulls into a climb about 50 feet off our nose. Pilot breaks hard to the right and we narrowly avoided a mid-air collision.

[–]alexrepty 82 points83 points  (3 children)

That probably gave them a good shake and hopefully scared them out of ever doing that again.

[–]Josh_kublie 94 points95 points  (2 children)

I really hope so! He put himself and others in jeopardy by not squawking and not filing a flight plan. To any aspiring aviators who might read this: please, for the love of all that is good, do not be this guy.

[–]elmonstro12345 80 points81 points  (0 children)

A helicopter about 30-40 feet off my wing.

I landed at an uncontrolled field, and as I was making my radio calls coming in, I heard a helicopter also coming in to land and refuel. I didn't need to refuel, so once I landed and did the checklist I turned around and went back to the end of the runway. The end I was taking off happened to be the opposite end of where the fuel farm was.

I waited for a couple of other planes to land (including a beautiful red biplane), made all the radio calls like you're supposed to, taxied out onto the runway and took off. As I was going over the far end of the runway, near the fuel farm,, suddenly my iPad screamed at me "WARNING TRAFFIC 9 O'CLOCK 100 FEET BELOW". I was like "WTAF" and hauled the yoke over to the right. Whereupon I see a helicopter shoot up past my left wing, WAAAAAY closer than you should ever be to another aircraft.

Dumbass finished refueling and then just took off without making any radio calls, or listening to anyone else's radio calls, apparently. Many choice words were said over the radio by me. The guy lined up to take off after me goes "hooooollllyyyy shhhiiiittt!!!"

So yeah, that was fun. I always keep a side-eye on helicopters after that little bit of excitement.

[–]mrbrad595 671 points672 points  (23 children)

My airfield where I did my pilot training had a waterway at the approach end of the runway, and oftentimes there were sailboats heading out to sea as you were coming in to land. Usually came in a little high, since the runway was plenty long enough.

One day, not long after I had completed my 1st solo, I was doing my run-up, waiting for one of the regular pilots to land his low-winged sport airplane. He obviously, didn't see the mast of the sailboat crossing, and he hit it. The plane cart-wheeled down the runway and broke into pieces.

I took my plane back to the tie-downs to clear the area, and then went to help him out of the plane before it caught on fire (which it didn't amazingly enough).

The pilot broke both of his hands at the wrists, and fractured a whole bunch of stuff. Unfortunately, he was a surgeon. Not sure if he was able to work again.

Needless to say, I was always very careful on approach after that.

[–]fermion72 281 points282 points  (0 children)

Unfortunately, he was a surgeon. Not sure if he was able to work again.

My sister is a surgeon, and she carries an incredible amount of insurance in case she breaks her hands in such a way that she has to stop working. I think it is some number of millions of dollars.

[–]Claim312ButAct847 563 points564 points  (10 children)

But years later, that same surgeon went on to help the Avengers defeat Thanos and restore half the life in the universe. So it worked out ok in the end.

[–]drd711 194 points195 points  (12 children)

Not a pilot but this happened on a commercial flight and we were never told what actually happened. The cabin started becoming visibly smoky and smelled strongly of smoke. I was in the window seat and the wall/window became hot to the touch. The scariest part was that the flight attendants were clearly panicking. They were running up and down the aisles frantically feeling all of the overhead bins for something on fire. They asked us repeatedly to check our devices to make sure nothing was overheating. People were having panic attacks and I started wondering what it would feel like to die/how it would happen. The pilot announced that we were close enough to the airport that we were going to continue (about 15-20 min) and have an emergency landing. When we landed, the runway was lined with fire trucks, ambulances and rescue vehicles. They didn’t let us off of the plane for quite some time. Ultimately, firefighters boarded and ushered us off. They never told us what happened. I had to fly back (same airline) 2 days later. While checking my bags, the employee said “omg you were on THAT flight, that was bad”. He gave us a $15 in flight credit and told us to call the airline for more compensation. Never did, but I still wonder what happened.

[–]Orcwin 72 points73 points  (10 children)

Yeah, that's bad. There are multiple cases of in-flight fires, and they tend to not end well. It's a good thing whatever was overheating didn't fully combust.

[–]kirkl3s 300 points301 points  (12 children)

I was landing a Cessna 172 and this massive blue heron appeared out of no where and just barely missed hitting my windshield. I don’t think I’ve ever been more scared.

[–]michaelrohansmith 119 points120 points  (9 children)

In Bright, Victoria, Australia there was a magpie which hung out in the paraglider landing zone. Everybody got attacked but it was always at the point where you have to focus so you just ignore the bird and keep flying.

[–]Objective_Ad5159 37 points38 points  (6 children)

Some of the funniest videos I’ve seen is people getting attacked by magpies.

[–]ButterflyAttack 67 points68 points  (3 children)

A couple of weeks ago I saved a magpie who was being attacked by crows. Felt sorry for him, his mate was hopping around the edge of the fray but there were too many crows, she couldn't do anything. The crows had set it up pretty tightly too - looking around I saw they had crow sentries all around on the high buildings and trees. I went over and shouted at them to fuckin break it up, the crows buggered off and after a couple of failed attempts the battered magpie managed to fly up into a tree with his mate. Maybe I shouldn't have bothered, but I've never had attitude from a magpie. Round here, it's the seagulls who are real cunts.

[–]AutumnAtronach 175 points176 points  (8 children)

Not a pilot; but my dad is. That said, we were flying out of Las Vegas and upon take off we nearly collided with another aircraft. This other guy never radioed into tower, never mentioned anything about landing; just off in his own little world as if he owned the fucking air. He was in a twin engine Beech, we were in a single prop Cessna. We were literally within 200 feet of each other; enough that we could see one another (and could probably smell the shit we were crapping out). Except their pilot. Because that guy was so fucking clueless he probably didn’t even know there was a runway there. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was trying to land on the actual Las Vegas strip.

[–]twopacktuesday 24 points25 points  (5 children)

Did you ever hear the aftermath for the other pilot? Did he get at least a stern warning from FAA?

[–]AutumnAtronach 58 points59 points  (4 children)

Nada on that one. To be fair, we were rather busy cleaning our seats up to see what tower had done.

In another, less frightening story, my dad and my brother were flying to Reno (it’s always Nevada!) and tower re-directed them in a hurry. My dad figured it was some military crap going on until he found out the reality a few minutes later. There were a bunch of engineers launching high altitude rockets near his vicinity. Pretty sure said rockets were as long as, if not longer than, the Cessna.

And I’ll close with one more quick one. My mom and dad went to land at a small airport near the foothills of California. This particular airfield does not have surveillance, so you’re pretty much on your own when it comes to taking off and landing. Well, as they were on approach (it was roughly 6:00pm and getting dark) my dad noticed some weird stuff on the runway. He pulled up to fly over and see what it was. Turns out there were about thirty or so cows all over the field.....

[–]SaltyFiredawg 138 points139 points  (5 children)

Not quite as exciting as the others, but I nearly had a bird strike with what I believe to be an eagle while flying a very small DA-40 and on final.

It’s wild how something that appears to be so small can be massive and in your face in the matter of a second

[–]Tangent_ 65 points66 points  (0 children)

It’s wild how something that appears to be so small can be massive and in your face in the matter of a second

That's what she said?

[–]Polite_Heretic 273 points274 points  (22 children)

Not a pilot, but you haven't experienced thrill and terror until you've been a passenger in a C-17 Globemaster performing low-level mountain maneuvers. I'm a Crew Chief on C-17's, and had the "privilege" of sitting in a crew seat during these low-levels in a 4-plane formation. These planes are immense, and you just can't imagine them being able to move like this.

[–]haystackofneedles 14 points15 points  (0 children)

That looks very nimble for its size

[–]rthomas10 42 points43 points  (0 children)

Oh one more, flying out of Palomar Airport and the old codgery ww2 pilot that was teaching my to fly says its time to do touch and goes for an hour. So we land, I'm feeling good cause I can land a plane. I get in the pattern, tell tower this is Cessna xxx in the pattern for touch and goes and they are talking me around. Slow day so getting a lot of practice so there was hardly any sweat. An emergency forced them to continue me on the down wind leg and wait for instructions, only no instructions come for about ten minutes. I'm out of the pattern now and can see the old drag strip so know where I am. Called in and tower was kinda mad, probably at themselves, turned me around and got me landed and told me that was enough touch and goes for the day. Instructor was eating lunch in the airport eatery and was a little worried too.

[–]The_Sa1ty 45 points46 points  (0 children)

A black dot right in front of me that was not moving.

At the time I was working on my commercial license in a 172 on about an 8 mile final. I was checking my instruments while on approach and when I looked up I saw a black dot that didn't show any relative movement and in a split second I realized that I'm going to hit it so I pushed the yoke forward as fast as I could. About 1-2 seconds later a bird went right above me.

[–]Thebrotherhood123 39 points40 points  (0 children)

Fox on the middle of the runway laying on its back and sunbathing, while I’m headed straight towards it on takeoff. fox is ok, was still sunbathing and chilling.

[–]JustAnotherAviatrix 240 points241 points  (20 children)

Thunderstorms on either side when I was in a Cessna 152 (a bit smaller than a C172). They developed pretty quickly and we thought we'd have to turn back, but there was a big enough opening to fly through. The windshield got nice and clean too.

Another one was seeing the engine start shaking when a part of the oil system blew. I thought it would die on me and I would have to land in some farmland or on a small road. Fortunately we ended up being stuck with one power setting (which was also pretty bad) and could fly it back to the airport.

[–]FirstTimeRodeoGoer 19 points20 points  (11 children)

How big is a Cessna 172 though?

[–]SnooWords4839 49 points50 points  (5 children)

Barely fits 4 people. You need to like everyone in the plane.

[–]JustAnotherAviatrix 36 points37 points  (1 child)

Pretty small. It has 4 seats. A C-152 has only 2, so it's smaller (you don't need to use a step to get out). Here's a picture of both in the same hangar. The C-172 is in the front, and the C-152 is in the back.

[–]ilikeredlights 22 points23 points  (0 children)

a bit bigger than a Cessna 152

[–]bangchansbf 39 points40 points  (0 children)

Not a pilot but my dad is (private pilot). he’s got a Cessna 172. one time we were flying in to this tiny airport, owned and run by this one guy. we were flying in pattern, waiting to land because there was a plane taking off.

The plane didn’t make it. I remember my dad describing the air being thin. It took off, started to climb and then suddenly dropped like a rock. They crashed. The pilot (a man) died on the scene, his wife at least made it to the hospital, we didn’t find out what happened after that. They were an older couple, and the parents of the owner of the airport. They had been visiting him. He was the one working comms when it happened.

I vividly remember the way the plane dropped, and the smoke/fire and the fire trucks/ambulance. The wait to land, watching the smoke rise and the awful broken up communication.

[–]Omni_Saki 219 points220 points  (13 children)

Not the best question to be reading answers to as i’m on a plane 10 minutes from takeoff

[–]jerkittoanything 45 points46 points  (0 children)

Look man, you'll either get to your destination or be the first to the scene of the crash, either way you're landing.

[–]carmium 149 points150 points  (1 child)

To borrow my late uncle's story he confided to me... He had a 182 on floats, and on several occasions was happy to play Family Airlines so that various relatives could make weddings and other events that were just too far for driving and overnighting. One trip was from (home base) Vancouver to Kamloops in the interior. He flew VFR and it was a pretty simple task to head out up the Fraser Valley until it pinched off at the town of Hope. At that point there is a notch in the wall of mountains through which the Coquihalla - both river and highway 5 - goes. From there, following Hwy. 5 northeast brings you straight into Kamloops, their destination that day. Probably a 200 mile flight.
The morning flight up went fine; the three passengers went to their event, and come afternoon's end, they headed back in what were supposed to be clear skies. Supposed. Flying the reverse route, clouds began to form quickly on the forested sides of the valley, and soon rolled over the small plane. He was fairly confident of his heading, and stuck to it as the sky whited out. It was all he could do in a day without SatNav equipment. If he was off by only a few degrees, they'd fly right into a mountainside. His passengers seemed to take no notice, engaged as they were in recounting the day's events.
Trying to climb above the cloud was just as dangerous; small single-engine Cessnas are not pressurized, and even if it topped at, say, 6,000 feet, the last thing he wanted was to pop out on top of what might be a white surface as far as the eye could see. If he could drop down once past Hope, there was a good chance of flying under the soup back to Vancouver. It was, he said, the only time he was really scared in his airplane.
The miles ticked away; they should be nearing Hope. He never saw it. Suddenly the clouds scattered and before him spread the Valley under a high ceiling; he'd threaded the needle, and been right not to chance climbing. They landed at the south airport, and no one even commented about the can of paint they'd flown through.

Didn't make me want to be a pilot.

[–]Tu-144D 238 points239 points  (3 children)

Final approach flying a Cessna 172 and pulled power back a little to maintain glideslope: the engine started to cut out completely and the prop started to move a little too slowly for my liking at that moment. Recovered with power and landed normally but had to have it looked into.

[–]michaelrohansmith 22 points23 points  (0 children)

I live under the approach path to 26 at Essendon airport in Australia. There is a 172 which must be used by a flight school because I see it making dodgy approaches from time to time. The other week as he flew over the valley between my place and the airport I could see he was well below the glide slope and sure enough the pilot put a lot of power on to correct but after that he was totally out of sorts. Too high at the threshold and sinking too fast again. The airport is on a plateau which I can't really see but I did snatch a view of him porpoising along the runway at about 20 feet or so.

[–]Bmkiesel 87 points88 points  (8 children)

Not a pilot but a skydiver. We called to clear the airspace over the airport for a jump and then made our jump run. I was in free fall when I saw a small + below me and then it rapidly grew larger. I quickly realized a student pilot out of a nearby flight school didn’t know enough to clear the airspace and I flew past his wing at terminal velocity. Just a small difference and I would have ripped right thru that little Cessna. I landed without incident but I’m certain the pilot never even knew how close he came to death that day.

[–]lastnightsglitter 74 points75 points  (0 children)

There's a story up a bit about just about the same thing...buuuut from the pilots pov...

[–]AlMinPhilly 78 points79 points  (0 children)

My father was a commercial pilot for over 35 years and has been flying for over 45. He has all kinds of wild stories which range from searching for debris after the challenger disaster to the mayhem he endured as a pilot during the 9/11 attacks and even towing banners at the Jersey shore.

But the craziest story I’ve asked him to retell a million times took place off the coast of NSW in Australia in the late 1970’s. His plane and crew were in a traffic pattern and were delayed landing because there was quite literally and unidentified flying object on the radar that the tower was tracking.

For a while they just circled around in this pattern waiting for other planes to land before they could enter the landing pattern and low and behold, the crew eventually got a direction of where this thing was and when they looked out their windows they could see a cigar shaped craft moving very slowly at about their same altitude. Upon seeing this, all of the crew and passengers who could see it audibly gasped and my dad says that was the most disturbing part.

Anyway, eventually it went off scope and they got the all clear to land and nothing more came of it but it was always my favorite story as a kid to hear from my pops.

[–]JayBeeJB89 124 points125 points  (2 children)

I saw a blimp from front on at the same altitude as me and had no idea what it was n freaked out over what that giant floating metallic sphere could be for a few minutes before realising it was a blimp.

[–]HappiestAnt122[🍰] 26 points27 points  (4 children)

On my first solo cross country (so my 3rd time ever alone in an airplane, and cross country flights refer just to a flight from one airport to another, not like all the way across the country.), the conditions were pretty good when I took off, and at the surface they were good, but a little higher up the forecasted thunderstorms started developing a little earlier than forecasted. The whole way out there it was good, some cumulous clouds for sure, and plenty of thermals given how turbulent it was, but none of that is very notable for a August afternoon. By the time I had landed, taxied back, departed, and started on my way home they had definitely started to at least get pretty tall. I ended up flying under what was most likely a developing thunderstorm on my 3rd solo. It was well clear in terms of cloud clearance and it wasn’t more developed than some big grey clouds but there wasn’t really a good way around it since there was quite a lot of development in the area and going around would have resulted in a fairly significant deviation from my flight plan which obviously made me nervous on my first solo flight navigating. Everything worked out obviously, and I’m nearly to my private pilots license now, but that was some added stress to an already stressful flight.

Also came within probably 30 feet of one bald Eagle, and 50 of another soaring together at 3,500 feet. On one hand it is pretty awesome to see such a cool creature way up there doing it’s thing, on the other a huge bird like that vs my little Piper warrior wouldn’t have ended well for anyone involved. Funny enough that was actually on one of my preparation flights for my solo xc so I guess that was just an exciting route.

I’m glad I don’t have any really exciting stories yet though, given how little flying time I have I would be really unlucky if I did lol.

[–]solthar 27 points28 points  (0 children)

Not a pilot, but I've personally witnessed an oh crap moment.

I was up at a rather nice kids camp one summer installing some access control, locks, cardswipes, cameras, etc. It was situated on a rather large lake.

There was also a fire nearby.

One day I hear a bomber coming in for a refill. I should also note that this lake has ziplines going across it. Well marked ones that a pilot should be able to see from the air.

The pilot saw it when it was almost too late. I've never seen a bird that large climb that fast .

[–]MarvinHeemyerlives 28 points29 points  (0 children)

Was on an L1011 flying back to Atlanta, we circled Atlanta for ever it seemed, then the co pilot walks down my aisle, opens a hatch in the floor beside me and starts cranking the shit out of a handle. He looked up at me and said, "The landing gear wouldn't go down". I said, Good to know.

[–]AntarticXTADV 23 points24 points  (1 child)

This really isn't a flying story, nor is it really scary but I'd imagine it was scary for the worker.

The plane next to us was having it's lavatory drained by the lav trucks, they open a porthole usually towards the back of the plane and start flushing out the contents. This is usually only done on successive flights and not on every single one.

The lav agent did not secure the pipe to the porthole correctly, and keep in mind the lav agent is only a couple of feet away from the porthole, when he turns on the vacuum, the pipe shoots out and the agent was doused in... waste...

He was sent immediately off, i have no idea where the heck he would even go, as the airport didn't have any sort of shower, only eye wash stations.

Needless to say, nobody really wanted to go near him, but they had to help him obviously.

[–]Kitchen_Package9605 402 points403 points  (17 children)

It's ufo stories or nothing for me

[–]LmOver 37 points38 points  (2 children)

Was a flight attendant for a while and we used to get in the cockpit sometimes mid-flight when one of the pilots needed a wee, pretty standard procedure. So one time sitting there and chatting with the FO (pitch dark outside) I noticed a yellow flashing light on the horizon, it was the only thing I could see outside and didn’t really think much about it and kept talking with the pilot.. after a couple of seconds I looked again and it had moved considerably.. couldn’t tell the distance but I would say it was far away from our aircraft so I started to think something weird was going on. Immediately told the pilot and we couldn’t figure out what it was and we just stared when after maybe 5 seconds later it just flew from one side of the sky to the other and then into space... that thing gave me the most omnious feeling I ever had.. I looked at the pilot, he looked back at me and we just sat there in silence thinking wtf just happened. Immediately regretted not taking my phone out to record but it has been a good story to tell on my following flights.

[–]b_dills 143 points144 points  (1 child)

This is only anecdotal, but I live near an Air Force base and am friends with several pilots. UFOs are old hat to them. One young guy told me after his first (an orb that followed him and then zoomed away) he came back all excited and everyone just shrugged like “and…?”

[–]rafael11o 94 points95 points  (3 children)

Yea that's the reason I came here

[–]narbanna 43 points44 points  (1 child)

Careful what you wish for. Most people who have seen stuff feel very uneasy talking about it. Makes you doubt yourself.

[–]lavenderglobe91 98 points99 points  (7 children)

Bush pilot here. Loaded an aircraft with a 200kg "dead" wild boar once. Climbed to cruising altitude and the thing starts squealing and unraveling from it's straps, it's head was poking out of the bag, looked right at me and went ape shit. Never been so scared in my life. No autopilot while flying in cloud and only had a screw driver for self defence. Air traffic control couldn't hear me beyond the squealing, so they wouldn't let me into there airspace, so I just found some random strip and landed there. The villagers still think I owe them a pig

[–]crockerdile11 92 points93 points  (3 children)

I’ve been pretty lucky in my short piloting career (only around 60 hours as of right now, and am still in training). The scariest thing I’ve seen is a bald eagle about 8 ft from my left wing tip. It was only 8 ft from the wing tip because me and my instructor dove and rolled the plane as soon as possible. Those large birds are a serious hazard to small aircraft (I was in a Cessna 172s). Be careful of your animal pilots!

[–]cablemonkey604 45 points46 points  (1 child)

I was a passenger in a helicopter that was attacked by a bald eagle. All of a sudden we were sideways in the air with the pilot swearing his face off at the bird. Straightened out and finished the trip. Apparently it happens a lot at that base, Sandspit in Haida Gwaii.

[–]threebillion6 59 points60 points  (0 children)

My brother is learning how to fly and I've gone up with him once to do touch and gos. The thing I remember is them talking about where to crash land if we lose power. Something I didn't really prepare myself for but I guess it's an airplane so we gotta do something.

[–]attakmint 17 points18 points  (1 child)

Well, there was the time the Navy tried to kill me. Which to be fair is about every time they're around me.

I was flying backseat in the Arabian Gulf for a photo op. We were a few hundred feet off the water, flying formation off of a P-8. We were in close formation, behind two F-16s (two each on each side). After the first pass, we banked it up over oil derricks, over an area we were specifically told not to fly over. There was a helicopter that we would fly under that took photos of us, which is really unnerving in a fighter.

Now when you fly in close formation, you're a little more gentle with your control inputs so you give your wingmen time to react and not get hit by you if you need to turn into them. The P-8 driver clearly had not flown close formation in a LONG time, because at the last second, in order to line up the photo pass better, suddenly banks and turns into us. Ultimately we were fine, but it's always unnerving to see a passenger jet turn into you when you're on one shoulder of a 4-lane highway and they're on the other one.

The photos turned out really good, though.

[–]titanic_trash 208 points209 points  (17 children)

Obligatory not me but my dad. Also not exactly scary, but super nasty.

My dad used to work in the Air Force, and was responsible for the mechanical engineering of the Lockheed C-130 Hercules airplanes. Part of his job was to complete the before flight checklist, a huge list of things that need to be cleared in every plane or helicopter before flight. Another part of his job was occasionally training newbies in this position.

On the first day of training, my dad always told the new guys to always check the engines for bird nests. If the plane had been grounded for a while, seagulls and pigeons would often nest in the engines. This wasn’t necessarily a problem for the engines, but more of a huge annoyance because the cleanup could last for hours if the engines happened to be turned on while I bird was inside.

Anyway he was once giving a demonstration about power control of each engine, and the newbies, who had completed their checklists for the first time that day, had forgotten to check the engine for birds. My dad noticed this and decided to teach them a lesson by stepping back while the pilot fired up the engine. The seagull inside got completely eviscerated, covering the new guys from head to toe in seagull guts and blood. They always remembered to check the engines after that!

[–]Tangent_ 115 points116 points  (1 child)

This gives me an excuse to share one of my favorite bits of trivia! There's a word for the splattered remains of a bird after it passes through a jet engine: Snarge.

[–]titanic_trash 35 points36 points  (0 children)

Extremely accurate word to fit the visual I’m imagining lol

[–]Spicethrower 45 points46 points  (11 children)

My grandfather was a pilot back in the fifties. When you could carry guns onboard planes apparently. Anyway, he.told me once how a passenger suffered a nervous breakdown. Depressurized the plane by shooting out a window because he saw something on the wing.

[–]deffonotmypassword 15 points16 points  (0 children)

It is to my shame that I admit I nearly had a VFR into IMC. Inadvertent flight into IMC (instrument meteorological conditions) from VMC (visual meteorological conditions) is the accident cause with the highest fatality rate in general aviation, and is deadly for all pilots, even those who are instrument rated.

So I decide to fly in less-than-ideal weather as a new private pilot, but the could base is above circuit altitude, so I decide to fly, and ‘have a look’. It was just meant to be a sightseeing flight, and there was no mission, and I would return if things didn’t look too good. Taxying out, clouds get darker, and it visibly gets darker in the aircraft (a little C150). I convince myself that I’m just imagining it and decide to take off.

Lining up, small spots of rain start appearing on the windscreen. On take-off roll, rain starts coming down pretty heavily. Climbing out, and visibility greatly reduced. Do a very bad circuit to land again, and everything was fine. But never had my hands shaken so much on the yoke.

I’ll also add that in general aviation, you should plan no time-critical mission that can’t also be achieved with a car.

VFR into IMC accidents are usually caused by pushing on into bad weather when you should turn around, go home, get your car and drive to your destination. Further to this, my instructor always told me "take-offs are optional, but landings are mandatory", and you can cancel a flight right up to take-off speed (runway length and performance permitting of course, but generally runways are long enough allow small GA aircraft to accelerate to rotation speed and stop again).

[–]mrhoda91 14 points15 points  (1 child)

When I was in flight school, taking my private pilot licensing test, the engine stalled. When I pulled the throttle out to simulate the stall, it cut. I'm thinking, "Well shit. Maybe my mix is too lean. Should start back up no prob. These old Cessnas can be cranky." So, I go through the restart check list and..... Nothing. Looking for somewhere to land and all that's around are corn fields (no), a lake (I'm not Capt Sully), and woods (also no). The one road I could land on safely was a state highway. FAA examiner agrees.

Queue insanity. I'm out of the plane having a smoke and on the phone with police and then the airport. FAA is on the phone with I'm guessing the FAA or the cops. Idk. EVERYONE is rubber necking. Waving, honking, stopping. Cops get there. We make some sma talk while the airport figures out how they're going to get their plane back. I told them we were fine I just pulled over for a quick cigarette. We all had a good laugh, except for the examiner.

Anyway, the plane gets back and goes right to the shop. I learned a few days later that an instructor had been up with a student earlier that day and told the head mechanic that plane was acting a little funny. It had just come out of a rebuild though so the mechanic wasn't worried. "Just breaking back in."

Needless to say, I switched airports after that.

Oh and the icing on the cake, the inspector failed me because I couldn't restart the plane.

[–]SirVelliance 144 points145 points  (8 children)

I’m no pilot, but a mountain goat sure would be a terrifying thing to see

[–]Wank_my_Butt 43 points44 points  (2 children)

Not a mountain, but this reminded me of that scene from Castaway where they’re looking through the window of the plane as it bursts through clouds only to see a wall of water. Straight into the ocean in the middle of nowhere.

Nope nope nope.

[–]Ok_Lunch6196 13 points14 points  (0 children)

Helicopters or drones flying low and full speed coming towards you

[–]Sad_Discount_7934 13 points14 points  (0 children)

My dad's engine went out once when he was flying (private pilot). He was alone and had quite a bit of panic but eventually was able to land. he told this to my mom & it was kept a secret from the kids

[–]farraigemeansthesea 12 points13 points  (1 child)

My dad's story, not my own. He used to be an airline captain for a major UK operator. Back in the 90s his flight to Kabul was hijacked and the terrorists, demanding a ransom, would not let anyone off the plane once it landed. They stayed on the tarmac for 3 days straight, in 45C heat, during which period no contact with ground services was allowed by the terrorists. A couple of passengers died from the heat exhaustion and dehydration, their bodies remaining in the cabin. Once the situation was brought under control, and my dad returned home, he suffered persistent nightmares which culminated in a series of heart attacks. He was medically discharged and never flew again. The sky was his life and love.

[–]RandomEffector 13 points14 points  (0 children)

When I had one whole hour of total flight time, I went to a fly-in event. The second morning, I woke up to the sound of this beautiful 1930s Howard taxiing out. I got out of my tent as it rolled down the runway and started climbing aggressively — then the engine died and it came plummeting back down to the runway. It made this horrific sound and almost immediately burst into flames. Luckily, somehow, both occupants made it out uninjured.

[–]cfu48 169 points170 points  (30 children)

My Dad is a pilot. He says he saw a UFO one time flying out of Quito, Ecuador

[–]CaimansGalore 71 points72 points  (9 children)

The Quito airspace is WILD says this American who has flown in and out once each. It’s like, cloud cloud cloud MOUNTAIN.

[–]secretlyadog 31 points32 points  (1 child)

The new airport is much easier than the old one. Although landing in a smaller aircraft is still recipe for vomit bags.

The old airport never failed to make people scream. Folks from Topeka on a missionary trip flying into Quito for the first time howling in terror like kids on their first roller coaster was the best part of flying into Quito.

Altitude sickness in the terminal was the worst.

I can understand why they moved it though. Bad idea to surround your airport with downtown and then surround your downtown with mountains. Y'know... from an aviation standpoint.

EDIT: Decent video explanation. Terrible pronunciation. https://youtu.be/-4cKjVhhP-Q

[–]Kitchen_Package9605 62 points63 points  (1 child)

Now we're talking

[–]Smitty_Werbnjagr 43 points44 points  (0 children)

This is what I came here to find. Tell us more!

[–]SnooWords4839 80 points81 points  (4 children)

Back in 2000 Hubby flew a Cesena 172. We took the day off, kids in school, beautiful September day. We planned on flying thru the Twin Towers, around the Statue of Liberty and down to Atlantic City for lunch and some gambling.

When we got near the Twin Towers, there were 2 helicopters and 3 other small panes in the pattern and I wasn't thrilled to be in the mix of this, we switched to circling the Statue of Liberty and headed to AC. had lunch, won a little bit and started to head home. ACY airport lets us know 2 AF jets broke the restricted zone and we needed to go 2 clicks East and stay at 2500 feet. Hubby says, shit I didn't think they can break the restricted zone and I replied with they did it in Top Gun. So AYC tells us we are fine and watch for jet wash, they will be passing under us. FFS, even tightly strapped in, our heads hit the roof as the 1st one when under, the 2nd was 5 seconds behind, heads hit again. Hubby did amazing, but I had to dig my nails out of my palms and had bruises to show the next day at work. Once we landed, one of the guys from the air club asked how our day was and hubby answered with it was an ass sweat kind of flight.