101 Emergency Landing: Controller Talks Down Student Pilot After Oil Covers Windshield
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101 On Sept 30, 2018, a student pilot with 4 hours solo time departed Potomac Airfield on a cross country flight. Within minutes after takeoff, she noticed oil starting to cover the windshield. She immediately requested a vector from Potomac Approach controller Casey Whittaker to return to the airport. Her first attempt to land had her skimming the treetops of the neighborhood next to the airfield. Her next plan was to ditch the aircraft in the Potomac River, to avoid any loss of life on the ground.
The pilot asked that her voice not be used. My thanks to pilot Tricia Belkin Vernola, whose voice you hear in this episode, for reading from the transcript of my interview with the pilot. Thanks also to controller Casey Whittaker and PCT NATCA FACREP Brandon Miller for sharing their stories. Finally, thanks to the student pilot for sharing her story.
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