Let me begin by saying that there’s no such thing as a crash landing. You either crash, or you land. It’s as simple as that. However, it seems that most journalists don’t understand aviation anywhere near as well as they understand that excitement and sensationalism sells copy.
Case in point: Look at this article. What you have is a straightforward, textbook, almost mundane, forced landing. What the article doesn’t make clear is that the particular type of aircraft in question actually glides rather well without an engine, or that the majority of pilot training isn’t about flying the plane when everything is going well, but rather it is about precisely these kinds of scenarios. I have long since lost count of the amount of times an instructor has pulled the throttle on me, only to announce “Oh look, your engine just failed”. By the time I got my licence, the reaction to an engine failure was long since instinctual:
- Convert excess speed (anything above best glide) to altitude. Altitude is time when you’ve had an engine failure.
- Look for obvious causes: knocked throttle, mixture, mags, fuel selector, carb heat
- Find a place to put the plane down and configure your approach
Pilots don’t get to have a licence without training extensively for just this scenario, but journalists would have you believe that the mundane is white knuckle territory. It isn’t. A plane wants to fly, and whilst I’d never wish to be in an engine failure scenario, especially at low altitude, an engine failure at cruise altitude in a general aviation single engine aircraft is usually nothing to be too concerned about.