Staying Safe in a Single-Engine Airplane

By: Litsa Pappas Email
By: Litsa Pappas Email

A WHSV reporter flew in a single-engine plane on Monday with an instructor to learn more about what might have happened during Sunday's fatal plane crash in Rockingham County. There was only one person aboard the plane, the pilot Brian Hall, during that crash.

WHSV reporter Litsa Pappas said she was a little nervous to get into one of those planes after Sunday's crash, but there are always ways to stay safe if something goes wrong.

Thomas Osinkosky has been flying planes for more than 40-years and he said it has always been a risk to fly a single-engine plane.

"The deal with flying is you can control,” said Osinkisky. “It's what they call risk management, so you know that it's risky to fly in a sense but you can manage those risks. It's not natural to be 6,000 or 7,000 feet in the air."

It is how you deal with those risks that keeps you safe. Osinkosky said if the engine failed in Sunday's plane crash, then there are ways to land without the engine.

"Your first thing is glide speed, keeping in air the longest, so this airplane here is 80 miles per hour so you get the plane at 80 miles per hour, and that's gonna' keep you in the air the longest versus diving or settling, sinking."

Sometimes, he said, the weather can be a challenge and you may not be able to see a good landing spot.

"Obviously you can't see the ground so you're dependent on working with air traffic control and following instruments, things like that. If you're gonna' come in and land here, you have to use your instruments and the equipment on the ground to get you back."

Litsa and Osinkosky flew around where Hall's plane was flying before it crashed. Monday they had a clear view of what was around them, but Sunday was a different story.

"It was lousy weather yesterday. It was foggy, like I said, we canceled even our instrument flights. We just simply canceled until things got a little bit better, but you really don't know what happened."

Osinkosky showed Litsa what it was like to have the engine fail. While the two in the air, he actually stopped the engine and let the plane glide. If it's a clear day, like it was on Monday, you can glide to a safe landing. If it is foggy, then that may be difficult to do.

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