How It Works

How do you land a plane?

Pilot passed out? No worries, help is at hand. Just follow these simple steps and a successful emergency landing can be achieved.
Sit in the pilot’s seat: this is the one positioned on the left of the cabin. Before touching anything, check the altitude instrumentation in front of you. The altitude indicator (often referred to as the virtual horizon) is the circular display that shows a W-shaped representation of the plane’s wings in relation to the Earth and sky.
Next check whether the autopilot is engaged. If it is and the plane is level, don’t touch anything. If the wings are not level, adjust any bank or pitch using the yoke (stick).
Now phone-in the emergency on the radio. Air traffic control will guide you to a runway, but you’ll have to make the landing yourself. Pull back on the throttle (handled lever on pilot’s right side) to reduce power and push down on the yoke to drop the nose. Drop the landing gear and just as you are about to touch down raise the nose so the main wheels touch down first.
Finally, when on the tarmac engage the reverse thrusters (movable bars behind the throttle), pull the throttle down to its ‘idle’ position and apply pressure to the top of the rudder pedals (down by your feet) to brake.

Author: Richard Aucock

Image : The Airplane!/Airplane II: The Sequel collection is available on DVD from Paramount Home Entertainment




  • Will

    Very good but there is hundreds of buttons in the cabin. For someone with no experience in flying it would be very hard to even find the autopilot master switch let alone if the auto throttle or altitude hold selector is on.

  • Helen

    Hi Will

    This was just a taster to get you interested. For more detail you should check out our full four-page feature. It’s all right there in issue 13. The feature itself is far more in depth and includes detailed explanations and some great diagrams that show approach angles, glide paths, instrument landing systems and loads of other information.

    :O)