My near 'crash' experience

Last Saturday, I was flying a Cessna 172, a typical high-wing aircraft for VFR pilots. I was flying into an airport called 'M54', a small one asphalt local airport that's about 30 miles East of Nashville. It was a beautiful day too. Winds were calm and variable, no clouds in sight, etc. Perhaps the only downside was the temperature, a toasty 95 degrees.

As a pilot, I like to keep my skills sharp when I'm not flying family or friends. We do these repeated landings called 'Touch & Go's". It's literally coming in for a landing, touching down, then blast back off again into the sky. A fairly routine procedure for any pilot.

Now on my 11th touch and go, I just had my main gear (the two main wheels towards the center of the plane) touch down and I was slowly letting the nose gear come down to touch down. The second that tire touched the surface of the asphalt, I felt a sudden and violent rattle, then the whole cockpit starting shaking including the rudder pedals which control the nose wheel and rudder surface.

The instant that happened, I knew I was not going to throttle up to take off again. I was struggling to keep the plane going in a straight line while traveling at speeds of 60 or so knots. I began pulling up on the elevator surface to create as much drag as possible to slow down the aircraft and starting applying moderate braking. Too much braking could of cause the aircraft to react in a not so good manner, i.e. topple over.

Then I managed to get off the runway and started feeling the plane wobbling end over end on its tire. It surely hit me then that I either lost a tire on touch down or I blew the thing off. Thankfully, I still had a tire on the wheel but all the gas had escaped rather violently.

The moral of this little post was not to say I had a near crash experience. It's to explain that in situations where unexpected things happen, instincts may tell you to run and scream but training is what should take control of your actions. Thankfully, I reacted in a manner to try to control the plane from going off the runway.

I'm also thankful to my Lord and Savior that I am well and in good health. It's certainly a story to remember and one I can speak of in hangars all around the aviation community but I'm also glad I can share it with you too.

I also wanted to let everyone know that I'm trying to write more on this website. I love sharing my experiences with everyone and I'm glad you are joining me on my journey to do something great.

- Marco


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