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Handling In-Flight Emergencies: Are You Really Prepared?

Rod Machado’s new eLearning Course on in-flight emergencies is definitely an entertaining and educating course that offers valuable material for both student and certificated pilots.

Featured image “Rough Day at RDRC” by John Romero, used under license CC BY-NC 2.0.

Recently, I got the opportunity to review Rod Machado’s new eLearning Course about in-flight emergencies. The course is about six hours of short videos divided into six chapters, with a little quiz at the end. The videos contain real in-flight footage, audio recordings of real in-flight emergencies, little animated people, and of course, some classic Rod Machado jokes.

Preparing for All Kinds of In-Flight Emergencies

I figured this course came about at just the perfect time in my flight training, as I’m about at my first solo flight and handling in-flight emergencies seems to be a very valuable skill to have! I didn’t anticipate, however, how much I would really learn about nearly every aspect of flying. Though super helpful for me as a student pilot, this course would be genuinely valuable to certificated private pilots as well. Rod Machado excels at explaining things simply without over-simplifying them, if that makes any sense. Said another way, you’ll understand everything perfectly without feeling like you’re being spoken to like a child.

In part one of the series of videos, Rod Machado explains just how rare in-flight emergencies are, and offers an easily digestible piece of advice: “Never stop flying.” If anything bad happens, fly the plane all the way to the ground; that’s your number one priority. This is a recurring theme throughout the six volumes, and includes real audio clips and transcriptions of pilots who survived in-flight emergencies by doing just that and keeping their calm in the face of serious danger.

Why We Do What We Do and Why It’s Important

My favorite aspect of the whole series is that it explains why we take the precautions we take when it comes to flying. Many pilots could go their whole life without knowing why we do certain things on the checklist or check for certain things in the pre-flight. This course provides a new depth of motivation to be thorough and focus on preventing accidents by taking the proper care and precaution when it comes to maintaining and operating an aircraft.

small airplane crashes can be avoided by preparing for in-flight emergencies
This doesn’t have to be you! “Small Airplane Crash” by Murray Foubister, used under license CC BY-SA 2.0

For me, it’s hard to remind myself to do things if I don’t know why I’m doing them, and this course explains what you should do and why, by offering you examples of what can go wrong if you don’t. For example, when doing the start-up and run-up checklists, each pilot is asked to make sure the ammeter is not discharging or charging excessively. Not knowing much about the process, I always wondered why generating extra electricity (power, as I thought of it) was a bad thing. By explaining the electrical system in an airplane using an easy-to-understand analogy, Rod Machado describes how generating extra power can over-charge the battery, damaging it and possibly leading to an in-flight electrical fire. Yikes!

Fire and Ice: Dangerous In-Flight Emergencies

Possibly the most valuable section for more experienced pilots is part four, which deals with in-flight fires and carb ice. (Fire and ice, the two most dangerous things to pilots that don’t include the ground.) In this section, the electrical system is explained in great detail, as well as some of the inner-workings of engines- stuff that, after learning it, I felt I should have known from ground school. Items such as the cockpit fuel indicators only needing to be accurate when they read zero and that 74% of carb ice related accidents occur in clear air*.

*Thank you Monica for clarifying that the visible moisture rule is taught in relation to structural ice, not carb ice. As a student pilot, I appreciate every bit of help I can get!

“…And that is what is called a ‘bad thing’ in aviation lingo.” Rod Machado

Testing Your Knowledge on In-Flight Emergencies

Another aspect I really enjoyed was the end-of-chapter quizzes. Unlike other eLearning video courses I’ve taken (such as Sporty’s) the quizzes actually require some thought and are very helpful. It took me a couple quizzes to realize you have to “submit” each answer to find out if you got it correct, instead of just “submitting” the whole quiz and seeing a score like I’m used to. Once I figured it out, however, I appreciated the thorough explanations of the answers.

The second volume, I found, was very valuable to me as a student pilot who flies often in turbulence. I tend to fret over structural damage to the airplane – unnecessarily, as Rod Machado demonstrates. Airplanes are much stronger than they sometimes feel and are engineered to withstand much of the abuse both pilots and the weather puts on them.

The course is not only full of helpful information, it’s got loads of fun trivia for various types of airplanes. For example, when Piper tested the Cherokee’s “Hershey bar” wings, they were so strong the machine they used to test them actually broke. This one stuck with me because I’m flying a Piper Cherokee at the moment, but there are many more pieces of information regarding the Piper Malibu, Cessna 172 and 150, Beech Bonanza, Beech Baron, and the list goes on.

Final Thoughts on Rod Machado’s New eLearning Course on In-Flight Emergencies

elearning course on in-flight emergencies
Click here to check out Rod Machado’s eLearning courses.

The animation is admittedly kind of cheesy, but enjoyable all the same. And besides, it’s what’s on the inside that counts, and the content of this course far outweighs any less-than-perfect visual effects. That all being said, I’ve used Gleim, Jeppesen, and Sporty’s, and haven’t found anything relating to aviation that looks vaguely modern except the airplanes themselves.

Rod Machado’s new eLearning Course on in-flight emergencies is definitely an entertaining and educating course that offers valuable material for both student and certificated pilots. It focuses on prevention and keeping a cool head, and doesn’t frighten pilots by taking the gloom and doom approach about high fatality rates and such. Instead, Rod Machado provides real statistics proving how survivable in-flight emergencies can be when handled properly, and uses humor and easy-to-memorize checklists to help pilots feel comfortable and confident behind the controls. Click here to check out the course on Rod’s website.

Dealing With an Aircraft Emergency

A couple weeks ago a new client called me and told me of his recent scary experience. He had been flying his Cherokee 180 the previous day when the engine suddenly became very rough and lost significant power. He was at 13,500 MSL 50 miles west of Wendover, Nevada. A quick decision was made to turn toward the interstate and head back toward Wendover. At least over the freeway, there would be places to land if he had to and help would be nearby. Greg and his brother were on their way for a business trip in Sacramento when the problem occurred and now they were losing altitude wondering if they would even make it back to an airport. [Click to read more…]

Carly Courtney graduated summa cum laude with her BFA in Creative Writing from Sierra Nevada College nestled in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Carly is still there, living the dream writing articles and flying (as a student pilot) whenever she can!