Graveyard Shift
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Pilots Describe The Scariest Thing That's Ever Happened To Them In Flight

Updated September 23, 2021 110.1k views15 items
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Everyone has had at least one scary plane flight experience, or has at least heard stories about what can happen when your coasting along several thousand feet above the Earth. Travel causes some people a lot of stress and their reactions to that stress can result in a range of emotions or behaviors. Planes are also complex machines that can be brought down by the smallest of human error, like miscalculating weight or even forgetting to tighten a screw.

This is a collection of stories where pilots describe the craziest and scariest things that have ever happened to them while flying a plane. From thinking that they were going to crash to someone committing suicide in the lavatory, a devastating equipment failure, and even paranormal activity, these stories will have you gripping the edge of your seat with white knuckles. So, make sure your feet are firmly planted on the Earth and get reading.

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  • Pilots Mistook Radio Frequency, Thought They Were Going To Collide

    From BostonGuy245:

    "Private pilot here. I only have about 110 hours so far, so I haven't had any near misses or anything regarding crashes/collisions yet, and hopefully, I never will.

    However, I was taking my mother to breakfast at an airport about 55 miles from our home airport. This airport is uncontrolled, so I was making the appropriate self-announcing calls on the airport's frequency and was scanning for traffic as well as I could. This airport shares a radio frequency with about 3-4 other airports, so when you make your call, it's important to note at the beginning and end which airport you're addressing.

    With no one in sight, I enter the pattern to set up to land. As I'm about to turn left base ( diagram for those unfamiliar with traffic patterns ), I announce it on my radio.

    Immediately after the announcement, some guy yells into his radio, 'LOOK OUT, LOOK OUT!' My heart drops, as I immediately think that I somehow missed spotting some other traffic (who perhaps wasn't using their radio) and that we were going to collide.

    Turns out there were sky divers being released at one of the other airports on the frequency. The pilot who made the call made this clear after the 'LOOK OUT' part, but for about a second, I was thinking 'oh sh*t' because he didn't make it clear that he was at a different airport.

    My mom and I did get a laugh out of it afterward, although she was also terrified when it happened."

  • Almost Annihilated An Entire Family On Christmas Eve

    From vonMishka:

    My dad was a certified commercial pilot, but was not working as such at the time (post-Vietnam had a lot of pilots and he couldn’t find a job).

    When I was six, we flew from Orlando to Miami on Christmas Eve, during the day, to visit my grandparents in a four-seater. My mom was heavily pregnant with my brother.

    I was in the back and had my seatbelt off. (Never again). We hit some sort of air pocket and the next thing I know, my head is on the ceiling and the plane is spiraling toward the ground. It happened so fast! From my perspective, the ground was spiraling up at me. My mom and I were screaming. My dad somehow pulled us out of it about 500 feet or so before we hit the ground.

    My mom’s drink was spilled all over her pretty dress. I remember that well.

    Obviously, this put a damper on my whole plan to look for Santa’s sleigh in the sky. But we had to fly back that night and somehow my mom made me excited to look for him again.

    But yeah, the whole family was nearly wiped out on Christmas Eve.”

  • A Four-Year-Old Punched A Flight Attendant In The Face

    From imadeanasaur:

    "Flight attendant here. Honestly, our planes are extremely well maintained and our pilots and air traffic controllers very well trained, so the odds of something horrible happening in regards to crashing or malfunctioning are very slim. The worst thing that has ever happened to me was being punched in the face by a very horrible four-year-old girl. That was genuinely pretty scary because I had never felt compelled to punch a child in the face before, really had to restrain myself that day.

    And walking into the bathroom and finding massive piles of sh*t in the toilet. I fly on prop planes and our flights are never over two hours, please just poo beforehand, I beg of you!"

  • Everyone Thought A Man Was Sliced Up By Engines

    From CorgisAreForever12:

    "My uncle isn't a pilot or flight attendant, but he's one of the guys in the green vests down on the runway, directing and bringing luggage onto the plane. I'll try to retell the story that he told me:

    'A jet was getting ready to take off when we got a call on our radios that a man had run out the emergency exit onto the runaway. Tons of security were out there searching for him, I was the first one to notice what happened next, blood was all over the wing of the jet and something had made an extremely loud SLICE. Everyone on the runway's heart sank as they started yelling for the pilot not to take off. The turbine engine was actually pretty low on the jet, so everyone started jumping to conclusions. The pilot had turned off the engine, and security went to look at the aftermath. No, it was not a man...

    But a hawk.'"