Passengers aren’t always privy to what goes on in a plane’s cockpit.
And that’s because pilots do their best to shield travelers from any unnecessary worry or fear when they’re on board.
But issues do occur.
Pilots and the family and friends of pilots took to Reddit to share some of their closest calls.
Here are nine scary stories:
1. One airplane almost collided with another during takeoff.
The son of a pilot who flew for Eastern Airlines recounted a time when his father’s plane was headed down the runway, approaching takeoff speed, only to find that another commercial jet had started to taxi down that same runway.
Stopping the plane and aborting takeoff wasn’t an option since the plane was going too fast, so instead the pilot pulled up early, missing the other taxiing plane by mere feet. According to the son, only the passengers on the taxiing plane saw what had happened; the passengers on the plane taking off remained oblivious.
2. A plane cabin started to rapidly lose pressure.
One commercial pilot was about to start a descent when his ears (and the rest of the flight crews’) started to pop a lot. That’s when he realized that the cabin was rapidly losing pressure thanks to a failing cabin pressure control channel.
According to this pilot, if an airplane loses pressurization while it’s in the air, pilots only have about 30 seconds of “useful consciousness” (ie, the amount of time they can perform their flying duties efficiently in an environment of inadequate oxygen supply).
Luckily, pressure controllers have two channels, meaning that if one channel fails, the controller can switch to the other channel. That’s exactly what the pilot did, and the flight continued safely from there. But the dropping pressure caused quite a scare.
3. A plane was struck by lightning while landing during an ice storm.
One Redditor’s pilot cousin had to land a plane in Pittsburgh during an ice storm. In the middle of the plane’s descent, there was a bright flash and an explosion directly in front of the cockpit. Because of this, both the pilot and co-pilot lost their sight and hearing for about 20 seconds.
Once they could see and hear again, they rebooted the plane and managed to land it safely. Those who inspected the plane on the ground found two tiny holes in the plane’s nose and on one of its propeller blades, which they said were caused by a lightning strike.
4. One plane ended up in the flight path of multiple other planes.
An air traffic controller told the story of a pilot that once went off their frequency. That pilot’s plane ended up at the wrong altitude, meaning the air traffic controller had to descend and climb other planes in order to avoid a collision.
The pilot then decided to choose a different altitude, which negated all the changes the air traffic controller had just made. In the end, the controller managed to safely maneuver the other planes out of the pilot’s way, but needed to act fast considering the high speeds at which planes move.
5. One pilot had to land a plane with a burst tire and damaged wing.
According to one pilot’s son, his dad was flying a plane whose tire blew during takeoff. The incident resulted in a large hole in the plane’s wing.
The mechanics who later looked at the plane were astounded that he had achieved a safe landing.
6. A small plane almost collided with two Canadian Air Force planes during landing.
One pilot flying from Alaska in a Cessna 150, a small plane (or, in his words, “basically a riding mower with wings”) was almost decapitated by two much larger Canadian Air Force jets flying into the same airport at the same time.
Upon landing, his small plane began to turn as the jets landed far too close, just narrowly clearing the space above him. The pilot later found out that the air traffic controller had not taken the planes’ speeds into full consideration, and had ended up stacking them too close together.
7. An air traffic controller almost caused a collision between a descending plane and a medical helicopter.
An air traffic controller on Reddit refers to the following story as the “closest call of his career.” The controller was giving two airplanes landing clearance when he received a landing request from a medical evacuation helicopter carrying a critical casualty.
The controller approved the helicopter’s request and then struck up a conversation with his supervisor. All of a sudden, the controller and supervisor heard the alarm that signals an imminent collision. That’s when the controller realized that one of the planes and the helicopter were at the same altitude, less than a mile apart from each other.
The plane and helicopter came within 100 feet of each other, but managed to pass each other safely. Turns out the plane had performed certain maneuvers in an unusual way, and the helicopter was flying much faster than the controller had expected, which is what led to the near-crash.
8. One plane lost electrical power and had to land manually and without any ground assistance at night.
One Redditor had a friend who happened to be the co-pilot on a flight he was on from Toronto to Los Angeles. The friend said they were just about to land when the lights on the plane began to flicker and the plane abruptly pulled back up into the air.
After circling LA for 20 minutes in complete darkness, the pilot announced that the plane was experiencing technical problems. The darkness and circling continued for close to an hour before the plane made a “scary descent” that included intense turbulence and a very rough landing.
The Redditor didn’t know what had happened until he met with his friend (the co-pilot) a day later, who explained that the plane had lost all electrical power and all forms of communication, forcing the pilots to land the plane manually, and without any ground assistance. Even the co-pilot said that it was the scariest flight he had ever been on.
9. The engine valve on a plane was left open, causing the overheated plane to have to make an emergency landing.
The son of a pilot recounted one of his father’s flights from Orlando to Boston. During takeoff, his father noticed that there was a lot of hot air entering the cockpit. The pilots eventually realized that the mechanics had wired the engine valve open instead of shut. According to the pilot’s son, that valve is what controls the amount of hot air that makes its way into the cockpit from the engine.
The pilot made an emergency landing in Jacksonville. He told his son that at the time the plane landed the controls had become so hot he had to cover his hands with his clothes in order to touch them. Both he and his co-pilot were drenched in sweat.
More Info: www.businessinsider.com