Started flying at age 19. 1800 hours: SEL, MEL and SES
On May 2, 2009, I crashed my experimental seaplane. Nothing was wrong with the AC. I had just forged too many links in the failure chain to prevent my crash shortly after takeoff. The last thing I remembered seeing was the top of trees at an altitude of maybe 150 feet. I was out for five minutes, so I’ve been told, and when I came to, I immediately knew (some) of what I had done wrong. But, it took me more than a year to do a true Root Cause Analysis of all of the causes. It wasn’t pretty.
At first, I wanted to quit flying forever, because of the sense of failure I felt, and what I had put my family though during my 30 day hospital stay. I believed that I had let the entire flying community down by screwing up. Then I remember the saying, “you are not a failure unless you quit after one”. THAT, and the support of my family, got me back, and I am glad I returned.
I had significant doubts about my ability to handle another in flight emergency. My flight instructor, Dale, pushed me hard to get my skills back. But I still had my doubts. They eased a lot on a flight a year after the accident when I had a “gear unsafe” warning light in my Cessna Skymaster. I followed the book to the letter, managed to stay composed, and made a good landing at a towered airport with the fire trucks rolling. Gear stayed locked. The problem was simply a malfunctioning squat switch. But, I knew that I was still capable of flying the plane first, the emergency second.