AOPA Never Again


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AOPA presents the "Never Again" series in AOPA Pilot magazine and online to allow pilots to learn from the experiences of others.

Episode Date
Choosing between bad and worse (September 2019)

You're flying over the desert and your engine quits. How do you decide which tiny little butte you want to land on? (By Richard Snider) 

Aug 16, 2019
Rough passage (August 2019)

Engine trouble above a solid overcast with known icing. That's not good. (By Jose G. Riera)

Jul 12, 2019
A monumental mistake (July 2019)

Sightseeing pilots in a dream destination are seduced by scenic grandeur into making a flight they would regret. (By Alan Cockrell) 

Jun 18, 2019
Stuck controls (June 2019)

Halfway through an Immelman is not a great time to lose aileron and elevator control. Good thing the regulations require a parachute, but will the pilot need it? (By David Werdeger)

Jun 18, 2019
Wild Card (April 2019)

We're all set to take our instrument checkride...or are we? Funny how little things can go unnoticed. (By Karen Atkins)

Mar 18, 2019
A Precarious U-Turn

 Operating in the Los Angeles VFR corridor seems safe enough, at least until the weather conspires against you. By Steven Mark Sachs.

Jan 18, 2019
Jumpers Away (January 2019)

Your engine dies because there's a parachute wrapped around the propeller. Find out how this happens. (By David Hensley) 

Dec 11, 2018
Routine Takeoff (December 2018)

When a Remos pilot has a partial engine failure on takeoff, the response seems less clear. What would you do? (By Jeff Durante) 

Nov 12, 2018
Change of Plans (November 2018)

An IFR flight in central Europe makes an American pilot long for the good old FAA. By Robert Tompkins. 

Oct 16, 2018
A New Low (October 2018)

While testing a novel piece of avionics, two pilots unknowingly become test pilots. By Stephen Davies

Sep 13, 2018
Soul Searching (September 2018)

A Meridian pilot learns the true purpose of training, and any pilot at any time is capable of making a mistake that leads to a dangerous situation. By John Smith. 

Aug 14, 2018
When to Fold 'Em (August 2018)

Most pilots would agree that gambling with an airplane is a bad idea. See how one pilot found this out. By Donald Burkley. 

Jul 12, 2018
Heading which way? (July 2018)

Have you ever declared an emergency? Have you ever considered it? Ride along in instrument weather with a failed HSI. By Austin Kallemeyn. 

Jun 11, 2018
Open canopy (June 2018)

Flying a Cheetah with the canopy open sounds pretty cool--so long as you've read the handbook. By Martin T. Murat

May 14, 2018
Into the Darkness (May 2018)

There's darkness, and then there's middle-of-nowhere darkness. Add in a low cloud base and you've got the recipe for an uncomfortable flight. By Tom Haack.

Apr 10, 2018
Moose meat mayhem (April 2018)

Flight safety is compromised by a moose carcass. (By Mark Owen) 

Mar 13, 2018
Smoke On (March 2018)

An oft-practiced landing technique pays big dividends in the real world when smoke fills the cockpit and the engine self-destructs. 

Mar 13, 2018
Dancing with the Devil (February 2018)

A Centurion pilot ices up over the mountains and hears two voices in his head. Find out which one he listens to. (By Joe Brinck) 

Jan 16, 2018
Cloud on the Runway (January 2018)

 A Civil Air Patrol pilot on an Angel Flight mission realizes the importance of patience when he finds himself nose to nose with another aircraft at 100 feet off the deck. By Dale Brown. 

Dec 14, 2017
Lights out (December 2017)

 When the runway lights go out at night while you're enjoying an electrical failure, decisions have to be made--and quickly. By Gary Souder. 

Nov 10, 2017
Ninety-Degree Turn on Takeoff (November 2017)

A sod farm makes a fine landing field until it's harvested. Prepare for a bumpy arrival in "Ninety-Degree Turn on Takeoff" by Tom Haack. 

Oct 10, 2017
Undone by a no-brainer (October 2017)

On a 10-minute VFR trip, a Cessna Skylane pilot wanders into unforecast IMC. What to do? By Peter Boody. 

Sep 11, 2017
The eyes have it (September 2017)

 Always perform a visual inspection of the fuel in your tanks. By Jerry Hawkins.

Aug 10, 2017
Check the checklist (August 2017)

A hand-me-down checklist causes problems during an engine failure after takeoff. By James Carter. 

Jul 21, 2017
The Little Voice Within Me (July 2017)

There's certainly something wrong with a Skyhawk that runs through its entire fuel supply in an hour and a half. But if there's no obvious leak, where do you look next? By Doren Weston

Jun 28, 2017
Smoke screen (June 2017)

 A Cessna 210 flying in the Bahamas is suddenly filled with blinding smoke. What would you do? 

May 30, 2017
Surprise encounter (May 2017)

In this episode, a Zenith 601 XLB pilot finds himself unexpectedly upside down--twice. You might want to grab that helmet and ride along in "Surprise Encounter," by Bill Thomas. 

Apr 18, 2017
Just like in the real world (April 2017)

Erratic airspeed indications, including a 70-knot indication while plugged into ground power. You trust your ASI, don't you? Compare your answer in "Just Like the Real World," by Harvey R. Greenberg. 

Apr 18, 2017
Gang bar down (March 2017)

High over the North Atlantic, a King Air pilot inadvertently causes a complete electrical shutdown. Stray on the oxygen and fly along with "Gang Bar Down," by Dan Gleason. 

Apr 18, 2017
Hatchet job (February 2017)

When the gear fails to retract, a Grumman Goose pilot attempts an extraordinary repair with a most unusual tool. 

Apr 18, 2017
Airshow awkwardness (January 2017)

A low-time Cessna pilot pays a social price for an incomplete preflight. 

Apr 18, 2017
Never Again: Nose to the Grindstone (Dec. 2016)
Main gear down and locked, nose gear still up in the nose. What would you do when a prop strike is the least of your worries? Find out what a cargo pilot did!
Dec 13, 2016
Never Again: Suddenly PIC (Nov. 2016)
An iced-up Baron is hard to land when the pilot can't see out the front. Pull on your warm gloves and ride along!
Dec 13, 2016
Never Again: Nowhere to Turn (Oct. 2016)
A Colorado pilot on a VFR mountain cross-country has few options when encountering a wall of clouds. Oxygen might be a good idea!
Dec 13, 2016
Never Again: Big Bang (Sept. 2016)
A Cherokee pilot is cautioned to not to try to scare his passenger, only to find out how scary an engine failure is for all aboard. It's clench time!
Dec 13, 2016
Never Again: Slip Slidin' Away (Aug. 2016)
A ski landing on the Alaskan ice succeeds ... by inches.
Aug 16, 2016
Never Again: Half Full (July 2016)
A hurried takeoff induces an Arrow pilot to miss a fundamental engine control.
Jun 23, 2016
Never Again: Mayday over Illinois (May 2016)
A Bonanza pilot suffers a catastrophic engine failure but lands safely using a synthetic vision system.
Jun 23, 2016
Never Again: Where Lesser Angels Roam (June 2016)
Hot weather, an overloaded airplane, and bad advice create a dangerous chain of events. Be glad you're on the ground!
Jun 08, 2016
Never Again: Up in Smoke (April 2016)
In the chaos of a forest fire, a reconnaissance pilot forgets rule one: fly the plane.
Jun 08, 2016
Never Again: Imagination or Insight - Alternator Failure at Night (March 2016)
When the alternator fails, the battery is supposed to be good for 30 minutes. But when it quits after only 18, how do you get the gear down?
Jun 08, 2016
Never Again: Once upon a Night Flight Dreary (Jan. 2016)
A dual alternator failure in IFR, at night, on a twin just out of annual - what could possibly go wrong? Have your flashlight and raincoat handy and climb into the right seat.
Jan 13, 2016
Never Again: Engine-out over Okefenokee Swamp (Feb. 2016)
The possibility of landing at night in the country's biggest swamp motivates a Cherokee to fly an engine-out approach very carefully.
Jan 13, 2016
Never Again: Scud Runner (Dec. 2015)
A newly-minted instrument pilot falls into the impending clearance trap. Cinch up that harness and expect some turbulence!
Nov 16, 2015
Never Again: A Thump on Final (July. 2015)
An unsuspecting cross-country pilot gets "thumped" by an F-16.
Oct 13, 2015
Never Again: Speaking Up (Aug. 2015)
Poor decisions are made to satisfy an impatient right-seater.
Oct 13, 2015
Never Again: The Long and Winding River (Sept. 2015)
A 172 pilot on a family outing encounters the perils of flying IFR - standing for "I Follow Rivers."
Oct 13, 2015
Never Again: You Can't Use that Flying IFR (Nov. 2015)
It's nice having a deep-voiced controller to save your bacon when you're icing up in hard IMC in the mountains.
Oct 13, 2015
Never Again: Almost Home (Oct. 2015)
Interesting things happens when a Maule pilot attempts a night landing with no runway lights.
Sep 17, 2015
Never Again: IFR or VFR (June 2015)
An Archer pilot considers his options in the fuzzy area inbetween IFR and VFR.
Jun 08, 2015
Never Again: A Real Eye-Opener (May 2015)
Assuming he's all alone at a remote strip, a back-country pilot neglects to use the radio to self-announce ... as does the other pilot in the pattern.
Apr 21, 2015
Never Again: Lagubang Lessons
Flying in and out of tiny airstrips in the jungles of the Philipines creates unique challenges, and a podcaster tries to pronounce Philipino names in "Lagubang Lessons."
Apr 21, 2015
Never Again: Tumble on the Ridge (Mar. 2015)
Turbulence, wind shear, and the necessity of tightening your seat belt to avoid continually banging your head on the airframe all contribute to a memorably uncomfortable flight.
Feb 24, 2015
Never Again: The Problem with Moonshine (Feb. 2015)
A 172 pilot learns that not everyone loves airplanes as much as pilots do.
Jan 14, 2015
Never Again: Two In One Airplane
If it weren’t for the roar of the 230-horsepower Continental engine, you could have heard a pin drop. We would have preferred to hear the gear drop.
Dec 09, 2014
Never Again: Two-in-One Airplane (Jan. 2015)
A 182 pilot gets two post-maintenance surprises.
Dec 04, 2014
Never Again: Cold in the Cockpit (Dec. 2014)
A Bonanza pilot discovers that there is normal "Chicago winter cold" and then there is "popped-door winter cold."
Nov 14, 2014
Never Again: Digi on PAR at Shaw (Nov. 2014)
An electrical failure in IMC requires instruments to be read by matchlight. (Originally published in the Feb. 1997 issue of 'AOPA Pilot' magazine.)
Oct 17, 2014
Never Again: Uphill Battle (Sept. 2014)
A Champ pilot underestimates his passenger's weight with nearly disastrous consequences.
Aug 25, 2014
Never Again: Flying the Beam (Aug. 2014)
Two military aircraft arrive at the same beacon simultaneously, with one going twice as fast as the other.
Jul 09, 2014
Never Again: Push Comes to Shove (June 2014)
A checkout flight of a home-built causes a pilot to appreciate stall awareness training.
May 19, 2014
Never Again: Snakes Alive (May 2014)
As a celebration of AOPA's 75th Anniversary this month, Never Again podcast offers this special vintage episode "Snakes Alive!" by Max Karant, originally published in the 1959 issue of "AOPA Pilot" magazine.
Apr 22, 2014
Never Again: Wall Street Journey
A Beech 18 freighter pilot hauling newspapers deals with an in-flight engine fire.
Mar 18, 2014
Never Again: Missed Signals (March 2014)
Preoccupation with a newly-installed engine monitor diverts a Bonanza pilot's attention from a far greater problem.
Feb 11, 2014
Never Again: Scud Running (Jan. 2014)
An Air Force cadet in jet fighter training learns the dangers of scud running.
Dec 10, 2013
Never Again: Unwelcome Guests (Dec. 2013)
A game warden gets closer than he expected to a flock of ducks. Find out what happens...
Dec 10, 2013
Never Again: Night Helicopter Rescue (Nov. 2013)
Oct 01, 2013
Never Again: The No-Nose Landing (Oct. 2013)
An air ambulance pilot uses an unusual and improvised landing technique to compensate for an inoperative nose gear.
Sep 16, 2013
Never Again: One of Those Nights
In this episode, a cross-country pilot learns the disastrous results of losing a propeller tip. Find out what happens in "One of Those Nights," by Beverly Howard.
Aug 12, 2013
Never Again: Tumble in the Desert
A student pilot on a spectacular cross-country through the Arizona desert learns the consequences of disregarding wake turbulence on final approach.
Jul 15, 2013
A date with his girl
Listen to the June 2013 “Never Again” story: A date with his girl.
May 31, 2013
A slap in the face
Listen to the May 2013 "Never Again" story: A slap in the face.
May 31, 2013
Big sky mission
Listen to the April 2013 "Never Again" story: Big Sky mission.
May 31, 2013
To sleep, perchance to dream
Listen to the March 2013 "Never Again" story: To sleep, perchance to dream.
May 31, 2013
Never Again: To Sleep Perchance to Dream
A Centurion pilot on a dull cross-country flight learns how easy it is to fall asleep at the yoke.
Feb 01, 2013
Never Again: Fuel Interruption
More than 25 years ago I bought a used Beech Baron 58. Within a week of my purchase, a longtime mechanic friend phoned: "I don’t mean to meddle. Be leery of Beech fuel gauges. Know your fuel by time and fuel burn."
Jan 08, 2013
Never Again: A Change in the Weather
A Saturday pleasure flight in flawless weather lulls a pilot into meteorological complacency with stress-causing results.
Dec 13, 2012
Never Again: Music in the Night
A Skyhawk pilot and musician listens to the music of his engine, and doesn't like what he hears.
Nov 12, 2012
Never Again: A Loud Bang
A Cardinal pilot confronts a failed elevator trim and the attitude that pilots with more hours and experience always make better decisions. Find out what happens in "A Loud Bang".
Oct 03, 2012
Never Again: Lights in the Night Sky
It's not unusual for a pilot who flies regularly at night to suffer an optical illusion concerning lights. The most common one is seeing Venus low on the horizon and thinking that it is an oncoming landing light. There is an infinite variety of other visual traps. I have had two experiences, one as a pilot, and one as an air traffic controller.
Sep 17, 2012
Never Again: Mountain Meandering
My friend glenn co-owned a 1968 Cherokee 180 and wanted to visit a mutual friend who was staying at a cabin in Happy Camp, California. He was slowly taking lessons, so we flew together a lot. The little Cherokee was a basic VFR airplane with questionable VOR reliability, but everything else worked fine.

I was confident as a 100-hour-plus pilot and looked forward to the trip from Reid-Hillview Airport in San Jose to Northern California. The weather forecast called for some clouds, but I knew there was VFR weather inland a little over the Central Valley and along Interstate 5. This was long before GPS or even Loran, so it was going to be pilotage and dead reckoning all the way.
Aug 20, 2012
Never Again: Crossing Charlie
In 1985 I had purchased a low-time creampuff 1955 Cessna 180. N9370C was based at Camarillo Airport, roughly halfway between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, California. The 180 Skywagon is slightly bigger than its counterpart, the Cessna 170, but flies as well with no bad habits. The big 225-horsepower Continental up front provides great performance, and I suspect it will lift just about anything you can stuff in its cabin.
Jul 02, 2012
Cloud Attack - updated
A Malibu pilot learns to respect a new and different kind of cloud on a bumpy entry into Reno...
Jun 06, 2012
Never Again: Ocean View
For months I had been planning a dive trip at Cayman Brac, one of the Cayman Islands. My nonpilot “co-pilot” Lynn and I have gone on many dive trips in my Piper PA–32-260 Cherokee Six. (Please note that Lynn is a male. For some reason, my wife of 25 years won’t let me go on flying/diving trips with single females.)
May 15, 2012
Never Again: Eastern Morning Disruption
At 10:25 on Easter morning in 2010 I held up my hand to shield the sun as I searched for the traffic at my two o’clock, 1,000 feet above. The air was smooth at 11,500 feet, above solid clouds and the rugged Washington Cascade mountains below. My family—parents, wife, kids, spouses, grandchildren—had gathered for the holiday that weekend, and now I was getting everyone home.
Apr 11, 2012
Never Again: A Rather Important Meeting
It was a typical overcast winter morning at Portland International Airport in Oregon, with ceilings running around 1,400 feet agl and reported tops at about 7,000 feet msl. Ground control had just rattled off our clearance to Rogue Valley International in Medford, Oregon, clearing us to 10,000 feet. There had been no pilot reports of icing. The briefing called for conditions to remain overcast with ceilings around 1,200 feet. Deteriorating conditions and possible snow were forecast for later in the day, but well after our estimated arrival time.
Mar 08, 2012
Never Again: The 100-Hour Itch
"I was a freshly minted private pilot, and I was nearing that ego-boosting 100-hour mark. I was itching for a 'real' mission--a long and exciting cross-country flight."
Feb 07, 2012
Never Again: Xs, Fences, and Cows
A student pilot on a night cross-country solo, encounters a closed airport and ... cows ...
Jan 09, 2012
Never Again: Don't Touch the Radios
Thwack! My friend David smarted as I slapped his hand with the admonishment to never touch "my" radios...
Dec 13, 2011
Life and Death at 15000 feet
A sailplane pilot unintentionally transitions to an open cockpit.
Nov 02, 2011
Never Again: A Murky Michigan Trip
"A low time VFR pilot on a long cross-country flys into IMC and learns to appreciate thorough training and helpful controllers..."
Oct 11, 2011
Never Again: Paper or Plastic?
A mid-air encounter with a plastic grocery bag initiates a chain of maintenance headaches for a 2001 Cessna Skylane 182T pilot.

"About 50 feet above the runway a large white plastic bag. The prop immediately shredded the bag with seemingly no ill effects. However, at 400 feet, there was the unmistakable smell of burning plastic..."
Aug 30, 2011
Never Again: Just a Few Miles More
I was returning to Frederick, Maryland, from Winter Haven, Florida. My Velocity’s Lycoming IO-360 had been unusually hard to start in Winter Haven, almost causing me to miss my IFR departure window. After a quick break and fuel stop in Waycross, Georgia, the Velocity was again very hard to start. Approximately halfway between Waycross and Lumberton, North Carolina, the engine shuddered, and then returned to normal. Scanning the instruments, I found nothing unusual. The engine then began a vibration that was anything but normal...
Aug 22, 2011
Never Again: Blowing in the Breeze
A Piper Archer pilot finds out that opening a door in-flight is no big deal...until you fly into a cloud...
Jul 05, 2011
Never Again: Hawaiian surprise
With the Hawaiian islands as a backdrop, a Beechcraft pilot logs some single-engine a twin...
Jun 08, 2011
Never Again: Post-Maintenance Surprise
"Get-there-itis," maintenance issues, and an inaccurate forecast conspire against a cross-country Cessna pilot. "I was a disoriented, low-time VFR pilot in IMC, without a working radio, in Class C airspace, near a large airport. I knew this was often how accident reports began - or ended..."
May 18, 2011
Never Again: A Lake and a Layer
Inadvertent flight into unreported IMC causes a VFR pilot to reflect on the value of effective flight instruction...
Apr 11, 2011
Never Again: Daddy's Little Girl
A birdstrike in a 1960 Focke-Wulf P.149D over Palm Beach brings home lessons of "just fly the airplane" and keep everyone calm...
Mar 17, 2011
Never Again: Putting the paycheck first
Although it seems ridiculous to an outsider, operating in less than marginal VFR weather is common in the Louisiana oil field. I was in a Cessna 185 amphibian, engine idling, pointed into the 30-plus-knot wind, holding position in the ship channel southeast of New Orleans. Unfortunately, in the chaos that led up to this point, I forgot about the fist-sized hole in the right float...
Feb 07, 2011
Never Again: Bucking Bronco Autopilot
I had read many times that pilots must fully understand and master their autopilots, but I didn’t fully appreciate the accuracy of those warnings until, at 1,000 feet agl I clicked off the autopilot on the yoke-mounted switch and turned to enter a left base leg to Runway 8...
Jan 10, 2011