We've all thought about it while flying, "what if the pilot and copilot are somehow knocked out and it's up to us to land the plane?" (Well, it's the plot of many a movies anyhow!)
The Art of Manliness has the how to guide that may just one day save your life. Here's the complete guide to emergency airplane landings:
When you first arrive in the cockpit take the left seat if possible, this is generally where the Captain or Aircraft Commander sits and often has easier access to some of the instruments you’ll need to fly. However, the majority of dual seat aircraft can be flown from either side.
As soon as you sit down take a deep breath and look outside to see if the aircraft is in a dive (you see more ground in the windscreen than sky), climb, turn, etc. If it appears to be straight and level then don’t touch the flight controls, the autopilot is most likely on and there’s no need to interfere. If, however, the airplane is racing towards the ground or in a steep turn, then you need to use the stick or yoke (pilot speak for steering wheel) to bring it back to wings level flight. Just like in the video games, you pull back on the yoke to make it climb, push forward to make it descend, and turn it right or left to turn.
I'm sure all those hours playing Flight Sim would be well worth it: Link
(Photo: hartlandmartin [Flickr])