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Motor Quits

When the motor quits.


If you fly long enough, you will probably encounter some type of in flight motor problem. While most purpose built aircraft engines are very reliable, many things can contribute to engine stoppage. The worst time for a motor to quit is when you are at very low altitudes. You don’t have much time to pick your spot!

Almost all day-time engine-out situations in light aircraft are survivable if you follow this simple rule:


Maintain control of the aircraft.

The overwhelming tendency is to keep the aircraft in the air until that unreachable field can be reached. Doing this can result in a deadly stall near the ground. This “keep it flying” tendency has killed many pilots. If you maintain a controlled flight attitude into the tops of the trees, you have a 90% chance of walking away with little more than scratches and bruises. If you stall the aircraft, close to the ground, you will be lucky to live.


If your engine quits on take-off, avoid the temptation to execute a rapid 180 degree turn back to the airport unless you have more than enough altitude to do so safely. If you do make a turn back to the airport, make sure you sufficiently lower the nose of the aircraft so that you maintain airspeed throughout the turn.  Failing to do this could cause you to spin the aircraft into the ground.  Many pilots have been killed in spin accidents making emergency turns. If there is any question in your mind about sufficient altitude to make the 180 degree turn, don’t do it.  Instead, immediately lower the nose and maintain a landing attitude & airspeed until you return to earth. By maintaining control of your aircraft (regardless of the landing zone before you) you dramatically increase your probability of survival.