Update: Thank you for the gold! Wow. This really grew overnight. Back in June of 2013, I was piloting a light sport aircraft across the country along with a good friend who was also a pilot and my instructor. While almost to our destination at night, the engine quit over the terrain of Texas which includes canyons, valleys, hills, and any other extreme terrain. At night, the terrain is invisible. No light illuminates the ground. After gliding for what seemed like eternity, the aircraft impacted in a canyon after deploying a ballistic parachute. The force of the impact was enough to compress my spine, destroying my back and paralyzing my older instructor below his hips. The aircraft continued to travel 1.7 miles across the ground before stopping on a barbed wire fence. My instructor did not survive. So this is my story. Proof: http://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/current/_layouts/ntsb.aviation/brief.aspx?ev_id=20130611X40901&amp;key=1 Proof 2: http://aviation-safety.net/wikibase/wiki.php?id=156526 I am the commercial pilot who lived. Ask me anything. Proof 3: http://i.imgur.com/SrDHnWO.jpg Proof 4: http://i.imgur.com/kKHotqQ.jpg FULL STORY HERE!! Didn't realize this would grab attention. Thank you. ON THE GROUND, JUST THE BEGINNING: The aircraft impacted the ground around 12:30am. Emergency first responders didn't get to us until 4am. Now within that 3 and a half hours, a lot occurred. After the plane hit, the winds on the ground continued to blow the parachute which dragged the aircraft backwards for 1.7 miles. The impacted was intense. As soon as we hit, it was instant pain to my back. Most extreme pain I've ever felt. It was like jumping off a two story house and landing flat on my bottom. It completely knocked the air out of me and I was unconscious. Now the terrain was not flat. We are talking canyons, valleys, hills, and gullies. The winds were strong enough to pull us up and down these valleys and hills. We skipped off the Earth like a rock across the water. Getting airborne again and again. Each impact unknowingly harder and harder. Not knowing where we were going was the scariest part. I really thought eventually the plane would fall and we would be killed from the impacted. But suddenly the plane stopped. At that moment, we decided to bail out. Knowing my back could no longer handle the pounding, I unbuckled my harness and so did he even though he complained he couldn't feel his legs. But once I got my door unlatched, I harnessed all my energy to lift myself out. And as soon as I attempted to get out, the plane lifted off the ground from the blowing winds. I fell to the ground but soon realized my instructor was not with me. I was laying face down in the sand unable to breathe or move from the pain. Eventually, I found strength to get on my feet. OUT OF THE PLANE: I was lying on my belly, face in the sand. I could tell I was on the side of a hill from the down sloping grade. In the background, I could hear the sound of the aircraft crunching against the rocky terrain. The wind was blowing so hard. At this point, I knew I had done some really bad damage to my back. Breathing was very difficult and everything in my back felt like someone stabbing me over and over. At this point, I contemplated just lying here and giving up. Let the darkness take me. But I quickly realized that this isn't over for me. My instructor suddenly caught my attention. He was still in the aircraft on that roller coaster of death. Laying on my stomach, I tried pushing myself up with my arms but my whole body bent at my spine. That didn't feel good. So I rolled over. On my back, very uncomfortable and in a lot of pain, I put one foot underneath me and mustered my way onto my feet. TO MY FEET: Now standing up, I really got a look at what I was up against. The terrain was incredibly rough. All around me were rocks and deep valleys. But I could only see as far as my night vision would allow. Off in the distance, I could hear the plane crashing along with the fierce winds blowing past my ears. So I started to walk with the winds. In the direction of my instructor. Let me tell you, walking with a broken back in rough terrain is not ideal. My progress was probably slower than my grandma trying to walk up the stairs. My breathing was terrible. Completely unable to take a full breath. After tackling going down the valley, I took a break. And then going up was the most difficult. Apparently Texas is known for their thick bushes. I had no time to find my way around them so I went through. Big mistake. The pants I was wearing soon became shredded and my legs began to bleed. At this point, my adrenaline has kicked in. LITTLE HOPE: So I continued to walk into the night not really seeing where I was going. All I was doing was following the winds and listening for the aircraft. I was becoming extremely dehydrated and my mouth was severely dry. It was still very warm. As I got to the top of a hill, I could see the aircraft. It was stuck in a valley against a bush. So I quickened my pace and started yelling out to my instructor. I was pleading for him to get out of the aircraft in fear that the winds would carry the plane further. With no response from him, I felt the winds pick up from behind and grab the parachute. That parachute lifted into the air like a kite and pulled the aircraft through the bush and up the valley. Faster than I could chase after. At that moment, I fell to my knees. I wanted to die. I wanted to give up. I had to idea when it would all end. I pleaded for death. I remember asking if there was a God, please take my life now. The exhaustion had set in and the pain was growing thicker. But then for some reason, I started thinking about my life and how I still had so much to accomplish. So much to live for. I didn't want my life to be over. So I got back on my feet and continued hiking. FINDING MY INSTRUCTOR: Back on my feet, I walked in a daze. At times my eyes aren't even open. I was so exhausted. The one thing keeping me going was my instructor. I had to get him out. But now the plane was out of sight. No where to be seen. I couldn't even hear anything, the winds were so deafening. I'm staring at the ground when I find a piece of the composite from the aircraft. That gave me a boost of motivation. I was catching up or at least going the right way. At the top of a hill, I saw down below the aircraft. It had stopped except this time it was snagged on something. And I could hear the rattling as I got closer. The parachute had pulled the plane into a barbed wire fence and it was doing everything it could to rip it off. Finally. I caught him. I tried calling to him from afar but didn't get an answer. Maybe he didn't hear me. But as I approached the plane, I suddenly saw his condition inside the cockpit. He was stretched out across both seats with his face down in the right seat and his legs dangling outside the aircraft towards the top of the wings suspended somehow. The lighting was terrible so I didn't get a good look at first. I quickly approached his side and after opening his door, he began cry out for my help. He kept pleading me to make it stop. I tried telling him the plane was stuck and not going anywhere but that damn parachute was still tugging and lifting the nose off the ground. I had a brilliant idea that I would catch the parachute and bring it down. Not very bright... HELPLESSNESS: I decided to climb over the barbed wired fence, miraculously. The parachute was swinging back and forth very high above me. Way out of my reach. The Kevlar rope leading to it was so tight and tense that I couldn't even move it. Tighter than a guitar string. I witnessed the winds die down and the parachute fall to the ground so I quickly tried to grab it. As I'm holding on to it and trying to pull it together, the winds start blowing and completely rip it out of my hands. It sends me down to the ground. I'm only 165 lbs so I knew my tiny body had no chance against this beast. So I return to my instructor knowing he needed my assistance. As I approach him, he is moaning in pain and tells me he can't breathe. With his face down in the bottom of the seat, I quickly searched for a cushion I knew we had brought along for additional padding. With the cushion in hand, I brace his neck and lift his head out of the seat placing the cushion underneath. I knew that wouldn't be very helpful after seeing his condition. His body was twisted. His chest was facing towards the tail of the plane while his hips were facing forward. His arms were broken in several places and tangled in the cable wiring. Yet he kept asking me to pull him out. I tried explaining my back was broken but without hesitation, I attempted to lift him out. He was so heavy. I had no strength to even move him. And I feared hurting him even more. At that moment, I switched to survival mode. SURVIVAL: Switching to survival mode meant finding help. I had no idea where we were. Our location felt isolated from civilization. I could see no lighting. Only the sides of canyons and hills. I knew too that no one knew we were out here. Our emergency transmission on 121.5 was never heard and the ELT didn't give much hope. It could take hours for anyone to find us. During the flight, I was using my phone to take pictures and the battery had completely drained. Besides, I could not find my phone within the wreckage after I did a quick search blindly in the dark. At that point, I knew I had to leave the wreckage to go find help. I was becoming extremely dehydrated and could no longer think straight. Exhaustion and the pain were adding up quickly. I had a bad feeling my instructor didn't have much time either. FINDING HELP: The barbed wire fence caught my attention. It was my sign of someone's property. I mean someone had to build it. So I followed that fence until I found a dirt road. On this dirt path, I could see a metal windmill off in the distance. I don't know why, but I thought that might be high enough to give me a better view of my surroundings if I could climb it. I took the path until I had no more direct route and headed back into the vegetation towards my observation point. I'm pretty sure this far into the night, I started hallucinating. I became paranoid that some predator was out to attack me. I must have looked like an easy meal. So I quickened my pace to the windmill and when I approached it, I didn't hesitate to climb. If I could get off the ground, the predator surely couldn't get me, right? OFF THE GROUND AGAIN: I began to climb this windmill to the top. It had a stepping ladder which made it easier. Though my process was very slow and tiring. Once I made it to the top, I just looked out into the night. I was looking for lights or signs of any buildings. But the only thing I could see were lights very far off in the distance. I began thinking in my head how long would it take me to get there if I ran. For me to run, I was truly kidding myself. I soon came to the realization that staying with the aircraft was my best option. At this point, I had another moment of just giving up. I wanted to just let go of the windmill and end it all. It would surely end the nightmare I was going through. WRECKAGE SUPPLIES: No end in sight, my time on top of the windmill was short. Holding on to the metal frame became tiring. So I proceeded to climb down. Once back on the ground, I knew I had to get back to the wreckage. At that moment, I thought about our supplies. What did we have in the aircraft that would be useful? My phone was dead. No way to call for help. And I knew I had my backpack which held my laptop, my phone charger, and some clothes. The airplane also had two water bottles, two flashlights, and all my personal belongings such as my wallet, phone, and pilot logbook. So I made my way back to the aircraft by mimicking the same path I took. Once I found the barbed wire fence, I followed it to the wreckage. Immediately, I went to my instructor to check on him. He made sure he knew I was still with him. He was still in a lot of pain and kept telling me how sorry he was for all of this to happen. I kept telling him everything will be alright. We will get help soon. All I wanted to do was comfort him the best I could even though I knew what I was telling him was a lie. I went back around to my side of the aircraft where I started to feel around. I immediately found a water bottle from the shining water reflecting the little moonlight. It was nearly full. I quickly took some big gulps from it but then started to conserve it. I didn't know how long we would be out here. All the while, my instructor is complaining of the pain. I brought water over to him thinking it would help but he said he couldn't breathe. I tried again to position his head up, carefully, to get it out of the bucket seat. No success. He wasn't budging. FINDING HELP, NO PHONE: The next thing I searched for was my laptop. I had this great idea to use my laptop battery to charge my dead iPhone. I had the USB cord to do it. I found my backpack in the baggage area and pulled my laptop out. It had been damaged and the battery had popped out but I shoved that back in and turned it on. The screen illuminated the ground and realized that this light could be used for inside the cockpit. As I shined my laptop inside, I found both flashlights, the other water and that's when I really saw the damage. The belly of the aircraft was completely missing and my instructor was really twisted. His legs were suspended in the air but I couldn't find out why until I used the flashlight to illuminated his legs. The parachute rope was somehow wrapped around his ankles and was pulling so tightly that it was cutting into his skin. It had obviously broken his bone. The entire parachute pulling the aircraft was being pulled by my instructor's ankles. I had no way to cut the Kevlar rope. It was too strong. Knowing I was useless to help him, I continued my mission to find rescue. I plugged my phone into my laptop to start charging it but my laptop kept turning off. I didn't understand why. It was so frustrating but I later found out that the CPU heatsink had came off the CPU itself and sand had entered. The laptop was overheating and shutting itself off. So my phone never charged. FINDING A PHONE: I chucked my laptop out of the way. It was useless. I was so angry at the situation and the pain growing in my back. My phone was our only way to get rescued and it was dead. At this point, I sat down. Biggest mistake. Once I relaxed, my adrenaline stopped. My mobility almost came to a halt. All I could do was crawl. I knew my instructor had his phone so I searched for it with my flashlight. I even asked him if he had it in his pocket but he said no. I searched anyways. Carefully sticking my hand in his torn pants. No sign of it at all. My mind had been racing as to where it could have gone. I looked everywhere in the wreckage. The one thing I thought could have happened to his phone is that it fell out of the aircraft along the 1.7 mile drag. But I knew, too, that I had no strength to walk that distance and search for a phone in the sand. It would be like finding a needle in a haystack. I began to cry. I remember my father telling me crying never solved my problems but crying was all that was left. I had tried and failed. My strength and will to go on was diminishing. I kept thinking we were going to die out here. But my instructor pulled my thoughts away from myself and back on him. He started coughing and grunting. He said he was dying. I made my way over to his side. He told me to lift his head up so he could breathe. I kept trying to lift but his head wasn't staying where I wanted it. I used whatever strength I had left. I pushed through the pain screaming. With his body up a little, I was able to free one his arms and below him, his phone slid out. CALLING 911: As soon as I found the phone, I turned it on. The time was 2:09am. The battery percentage was 64% and there was one cellphone signal bar. He had the iPhone 5 so without unlocking his phone, I dialed 911. I held the phone to my ear and after 5 seconds of silence, I heard ringing. Operator: "911. What is your emergency?" I got through. Me: "Hello?! Yes! We were in a plane crash and need help immediately! I don't know where we are but somewhere in the panhandle of Texas!". Operator: "I'm sorry, did you say you were in a plane crash?!" Me: "Yes, we were in a plane crash, and we need help now! My friend is in really bad shape!" Operator: "Can you please tell me your name and where you are at?" Me: "My name is Zachary Jenkins and I don't know where I am at! <--- My name is in the reports if you read them. Operator: "Okay Zachary, and who did you say is with you?" Me: "My instructor. His name is ..." The call drops. Me: Hello? Hello!?

Comments: 144 • Responses: 37  • Date: 

BinHated31 karma

How long after the crash did it take until you were truly out of the situation?

longitudinalynhanced37 karma

Okay. I knew this question would be asked. So bare with me. The aircraft impacted the ground around 12:30am. Emergency first responders didn't get to us until 4am. The rest is in my story.

SuperNinjaBot6 karma

If you write a book I think reddit would be interested. Stranger things have happened.

longitudinalynhanced8 karma

I wish I could write a book but as you can tell, my writing is poor.

Godzuki1715 karma

Who came to help and how were they contacted? Do you still keep in touch with any of the helpers?

longitudinalynhanced14 karma

I used my instructor's cellphone to call 911. They searched for us. But finding his cellphone was not an easy task. I'll explain in my story.

IAmTheFlyingIrishMan14 karma

Why such a long leg? The fuel cap only allowed 3 hours and 35 minutes of flight time, cutting it close to time en route, why push the limits?

longitudinalynhanced16 karma

The POH stated 3.6 GPH. It also stated it had 14.5 usable fuel. That's nearly 4 hours of flight time. BUT Pipistrel, the manufacturer falsified data in their POH on the fuel tank capacity. The NTSB reported this information. The fuel tank was actually 12.7 usable which would make the difference. Our planning for that last leg should have been shorter but we were using the wrong fuel tank size so our calculations actually put us at our destination.

RinkRat1617310 karma

Any stress related to the accident? Have you flown since?

longitudinalynhanced32 karma

After the accident, I went through some intensive physical therapy and had a lot of survival guilt. To this day, I still do. I relive the experience so vividly everyday. I witnessed a grown man cry for help. In a very disfigured position in the aircraft. And yet I was totally helpless. All the muscles in my back were torn. Every ligament in my spine was destroyed from the impact. His cries for help still haunt my dreams. The more I tried, the more I realized how helpless I was to rescuing him.

agentdarko8 karma

Could you feel any pain or where you in total shock?

longitudinalynhanced14 karma

In the beginning, I had a lot of adrenaline. I could feel the pain but I had a bigger agenda. Save my instructor and find help. But mostly shock as well.

goosegoosegoosegoose9 karma

While I understand that the manufacturer falsified fuel capacity, do you still feel like you and your instructor failed? As a pilot myself, and one who is well acquainted with both desert and over water GA, I can pretty confidently say that I would never cut it that close on a flight plan, especially at night, and especially over that kind of desolate terrain.

I know that's a raw question, and I'm not intending to be insensitive - I can't imagine the physical and emotional toll this has taken on you. I'm glad you survived.

longitudinalynhanced2 karma

Looking back now on the flight, I am constantly thinking about what we could have down differently. Our destination was where my instructor's son would be picking us up from the airport to sleep. So that was an external pressure. The flight plan was accurate. The unforecast winds aloft increased our total time but with the amount of fuel we had, we would still make it within our reserves. The route consisted of very little airports but it was the most direct. My trust in my instructor was very high and that is my worst mistake.


do you think all planes should have included parachutes in the tail?

longitudinalynhanced8 karma

The parachute is a great design. It saved my life. But there are setbacks. The injuries sustained from impact may still take your life.

dreamcasting6 karma

I've read time can compress and stretch out when thus stuff happens. Did it for you? What were your thoughts when you knew you were going to hit the terrain inches from your plane?

longitudinalynhanced7 karma

Everything felt slowed down. Like an eternity. I can tell you, everything that happened that night is still very clear. It has been less than two years since, and I'm just now feeling comfortable speaking about it. Time may heal all wounds but this one has definitely stayed apart of me.

ACHILLESiii6 karma

Hey /u/longitudinalynhanced, can you please format your OP into paragraphs? It is impossible to read like that.

longitudinalynhanced3 karma

Is that any better? Please let me know.

ACHILLESiii5 karma

Much, thank you! Your story is fascinating, I know you mentioned going to sleep -- I don't have any questions, but I will be eagerly following if you choose to continue. I hope all is well with you now

longitudinalynhanced2 karma

Yes. Everyone's questions are fantastic. I'll continue tomorrow. I promise.

bakere056 karma

Any perspective for a civilian who's afraid to fly?

longitudinalynhanced18 karma

Flying is still the safest form of travel? Learn from a pilot's perspective. Understand aviation. You learn how flight is truly an amazing gift.

tjpott5 karma

What was the conversation like between you and the instructor (or were there two instructors? I'm a little unclear about that) as the plane fell from the sky? Was it panic?

longitudinalynhanced7 karma

We were both certified instructors but he was acting pilot in command with more experience and understanding of the aircraft. At first we both didn't talk. I remember saying, "Ah shit, how could this happen to us?!" "This doesn't happen to us." "What did we miss?" My instructor tried to troubleshoot the problem but we both knew the answer was fuel starvation soon enough.

breenon5 karma

Sounds like you spent the entire time in shock and lacked cohesive thinking but I would dearly like to know if at any point you accepted the idea that you were going to die?

I've had a few run ins with fate in my life including being paralysed and my heart actually stopped. It's gotten to the point where I'm paranoid and feel that life is out to get me so what I'd like to know is at any point did you feel like you were going to die and accept it? The 2nd time I lay dying I remember thinking about how disappointed I was that my life was ending and at least in my head remember saying "well this sucks" and feeling I wish I'd done other things in my life. I was never angry about, just felt let down. Did you go through anything like this?

longitudinalynhanced8 karma

I went through exactly what you described multiple times. While the plane was descending, I felt how careless I was with my life. I wanted so much more. When I got out of the aircraft, I wanted to quit and die. It was too much. When I almost was able to reach him, I felt helpless and pleaded for death. More I'll explain in my story.

PouponMacaque5 karma

If you could sum up your approach to or view of life in just a few words before and after the accident, what do you think they'd be? How did that change and why?

We're glad you made it through the accident.

longitudinalynhanced4 karma

Before my accident, I lived day to day not really caring to much about life. I took a lot of things for granted but I had just graduated college and was really happy. Ready to take on the world. And then my accident happened, and I think I lost a part of me that night. I really was ready for the end but that didn't happen. So now I don't take life for granted.

agentdarko3 karma

How has this affected you psychologically? Do you suffer PTSD?

longitudinalynhanced9 karma

It was very difficult in the beginning. The nightmares. The cold sweats. I tried therapy and they wanted to put me on drugs which I refused. I went through a lot of grief and depression and now I'm in the anger stage. I start to think back on my accident and it just causes rage thinking about why didn't I do this or that. Anything I would have done could have possibly saved his life. I get so pissed at myself. Even now thinking about it.

krystallynn043 karma

How did it feel falling and not knowing you'd survive or not?

longitudinalynhanced12 karma

That feeling you get in your stomach when you know you're in trouble. That's what I felt. And then I started accepting the fact that I was probably going to die. I started asking myself questions on death. Coming to accept it as a done deal.

derpinagt3 karma

Wow! Your story is beyond comparison. I am glad you are alive and sharing an AMA. I am wondering about how much physical damage did you get and which are your recurrent thoughts about yourself? I mean, survivor's guilt must not be easy to overcome and I am concerned about your current wellbeing. Be good.

longitudinalynhanced2 karma

I was airlifted to the nearest hospital in Amarillo, Texas. The doctors performed surgery on my back. I had two titanium rods inserted down my spine to alleviate the compressed vertebras that were dancing around my spine. My doctor said I was extremely lucky I wasn't paralyzed from my injuries and that my muscles in my back held me together. He had to removed a lot of ligaments and torn muscles because they were severely damaged.

Pgriff123 karma

Why didn't you declare an emergency with atc? Instead of letting them blindly search for you for 4 hours

longitudinalynhanced1 karma

We were not speaking with ATC during the time of the failure. We did however, make a report on the Guard frequency 121.5. However, we got no response.

chodabomb2 karma

Wow... intense stuff. My old boss had a Diamond DA-40 I think?? He used it all the time for work and would fly around Texas very regularly. I flew with him on a few different occaisions and honestly as I sat there looking at that single prop engine I couldn't help but think that my mortality was completely resting on a piece of machinery. Anyhow, we did discuss likelihood of engine failure and stuff like that but he always maintained that those smaller planes basically just glide for ages as the weight ratio is very much in favor of the plane.

It may be too hard, but can you replay for us those moments after the engine failed? How long were you in the air? Did the plane glide or was it a nose-dive or something else? Is there anything you can do to slow the plane down after something like that happens?

Sorry for all the questions its just something I find fascinating.

Also.. what part of Texas did you come down in?


longitudinalynhanced3 karma

After the engine quit, the plane became a glider. My instructor took the controls and he pitched for best glide. However at night, I had no idea what was below us and there were no nearest airports. The plane was in the air for less than 4 minutes after the engine failure.

Guy_In_Florida2 karma

Have you posted this on aviation forums? Theres a big lesson here for newbie pilots that think it can never happen to them. Fly long enough, it sure will.

longitudinalynhanced1 karma

I have not posted anything about this accident. This is my first attempt.

soupoftheday52 karma

were you dehydrated when you initially crashed? or did you become dehydrated after hiking around in the dry climate?

longitudinalynhanced1 karma

I became dehydrated very quickly from hiking and the warm, dry air. I had no water.

Nofriendstobring2 karma

Did you have any big guys on the plane? Do you think that would have affected the air resistance?

longitudinalynhanced1 karma

The aircraft could only hold two people. No more.

ky23912 karma

were you scared?

longitudinalynhanced1 karma

I could not have been more scared in my life. The idea of death had never crossed my mind before.

kooldawgstar2 karma

What was your initial thought when you relized that you are going to crash?

longitudinalynhanced10 karma

To be honest, I thought it couldn't be happening to me. The disbelief of it all. I've read studies on accident reports and always told myself that I would never let that happen to me. And then it happened. I knew there was a very low chance of survival. So I accepted death.

AnyasCat2 karma

Will you describe how the rescuers found you and your feelings then?

longitudinalynhanced3 karma

I will finish my story tomorrow. I promise. Must sleep for now.

beer_demon2 karma

Why so much damage if the plane fell under a canopy?
What stopped the engine? You had trouble starting it before but you were also short on fuel, right?
What would you do differently in hindsight?

longitudinalynhanced4 karma

There was so much damage due to the parachute dragging the airplane across the ground for 1.7 miles from the point of impact. And this is over rough terrain. The engine quit due to the lack of fuel. The POH of the aircraft said that the fuel tank was 15 gallons or 14.5 usable when in reality the manufacturer was wrong. The size of the tank was smaller. Actually only 13.2 gallons or 12.7 usable. Meaning the planning we had on fuel burn was inaccurate causing us to run out of fuel early.

beer_demon5 karma

So it was very windy for a chute to drag a whole plane across rough terrain, doesn't it have a quick release?
Had the dragging not happened would your mate have survived?
Is the manufacturer liable for this accident?

I am sorry you went through this, thanks for the replies.

longitudinalynhanced13 karma

No quick release. God do I wish there was one though. I currently have a lawsuit against the foreign company just asking for justice. They want to claim no liability by dismissing the case but the judges aren't allowing it. This company Pipistrel needs to be held accountable for their negligence which costed a life. They were in the wrong.

LiquidPotatoes2 karma

Hello. Firstly, your story is astounding.

What was your initial train of thought following the moment you realized you lost control of the aircraft? How frequent are engine failures in both sport and commercial aircrafts?

longitudinalynhanced10 karma

When the engine quit, and I looked to the vast emptiness below, my heart sank. At that moment, I realized my life was over. An engine failure at night is known to not end well. Previous accident reports can tell you that. At only 22 years old, I was thinking about what death would be like. Would it hurt? Would it be quick? What will be parents think? What about my baby niece? She will never know who I am. Will anyone be at my funeral? Will they find my body? My mind was racing but I was frozen with fear. Then I started to fight. I wanted to live. All my training before had prepared me for this moment. But then that training had little to do with what I had to face next, once I was alive on the ground.

bennoeisfeld1 karma

Have you ever read about impressions from combating soldiers in any war? Do you think that you can understand their impressions of fear better than before your accident?

longitudinalynhanced2 karma

I won't speak for what they went through and how my story relates. I've come to learn that everyone has their own story to tell. I would say that I could relate to PTSD. But our impressions would not be similar.

funkarama1 karma

Did the plane have a radio? Did you radio for help before crashing?

longitudinalynhanced1 karma

It did have a radio. We report our emergency on 121.5 without success.

chris_m_h1 karma

You are perhaps lucky to be alive. I guess that's made you think about things. What advice do you have for the world?

longitudinalynhanced16 karma

Don't take life as we know it, for granted. It can be over in a blink of an eye. So live it to your fullest. I have returned to flying because it is still my passion but I have a totally different outlook on life now. I don't live in fear of death because I have seen it.

SilentlyCrying1 karma

Have you flown since the accident?

longitudinalynhanced1 karma

I was away from flying throughout my entire recovery process but eventually got back in the air with a trusted pilot in November of 2014.

seasicksquid1 karma

I wanted to die. I wanted to give up. I had to idea when it would all end. I pleaded for death. I remember asking if there was a God, please take my life now. The exhaustion had set in and the pain was growing thicker. But then for some reason, I started thinking about my life and how I still had so much to accomplish. So much to live for. I didn't want my life to be over. So I got back on my feet and continued hiking

I almost died in a boating accident several years ago, and I had the exact same thought process. I injured myself falling off the boat, and had been in the rough cold water for a while and couldn't see anyone. My lifejacket was too loose and not doing a good job at keeping me above the surface. I remember bargaining with God, then giving up, then saying, "Oh hell no, I want more from life!" and giving it my last ounces of energy. Shortly after a boat came up behind me and were able to scoop me out of the water.

Glad you survived. How has it changed your outlook on life now?

longitudinalynhanced1 karma

I can say my faith was not weakened or strengthen by my accident. I come from a Christian background but I was never strong in my faith. I use God only when I need him the most. A lot of followers, told me God allowed me to live that night because I have a greater purpose to fulfill. But I feel more cursed than anything.

oldspice751 karma

Was there anything that you could do, after realizing that the plane would crash, to land better or alleviate the impact?

What was the cause of the plane's failure?

What were your injuries like and have you recovered from them?

How long did it take you to fly again?

longitudinalynhanced3 karma

The terrain below was unknown. At night, what is below is featureless. We were over the panhandle of Texas so not much around us. I could see the town were we flying into but that soon disappeared as we descended.

isntjameson-2 karma

You crashed about an hour away from where I live. Would you say you had a smashing time in the Texas panhandle?

longitudinalynhanced2 karma

I actually got a kick out of this comment. So thank you.

burglarslayer-13 karma

Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?

longitudinalynhanced10 karma

A pain I never felt before. Yes.