Michael Campbell

Story Time.

Going Down

by | Mar 31, 2009 | Uncategorized

Whenever I search using Google, it presents me two helpful Tips of The Day. They are random. Today’s tips:
1) How To Land an Airplane in an Emergency
2) How To Make an Origami Picture Frame

I shouldn’t try to find a relationship between the two, but it’s my nature to connect everything into One Big Whole.

I wanted to learn to fly an airplane, but I’m a procrastinator, and I still haven’t finished filling out the application form thirty years later. So if I am at the controls of an airplane, it is already an emergency. As for origami, I can fold a dollar into a tiny pirate hat.

I think the first thing one should do if 1) one is at the controls of an airplane; 2) one doesn’t know how to fly; and 3) the plane is pointing down, one should first 4) put down the origami.

But instead, the instructions say, “Take a breather.” I presume they meant to say, “take a deep breath,” because when your plane is nose down it’s not a good time to go for coffee and donuts. The instructions say you might be “overwhelmed by the gravity of the situation.” If I can count on anything in a plane crash, it’s being overwhelmed by gravity.

I think the next step could be skipped too: “Keep the aircraft level.” I promise to wait until my second lesson to practice barrel rolls.

Next I am instructed to “correct the pitch and bank, simultaneously turning the yoke and pulling it, to align with the artificial horizon.” The one thing plane crashing and origami have in common is that the instructions are confusing.

“Call for help.” Useful.I presume they mean over the radio.

“If a red light is lit, tell the controller. Below the red light, there will be a description of the light, i.e. Generator, Low Voltage. Obviously this requires prompt attention.” Obviously, it helps if you know how to fix a generator while flying a plane. The instructions remind me that the “push-to-talk” button is right next to the “autopilot button,” which, if pushed accidentally, could result in a crash, which I think I’m resulting in anyway.

“Give the controller the airplane’s call sign. This will not only clearly identify you, but the controllers will be able to get basic information about the airplane that you probably won’t know about.” Like where the pilot went?

“Find the airspeed indicator.” Spinning clockwise = bad. But alternately, “Do not let the aircraft fly too slowly, especially near the ground.” Glad to know that, because if it were up to me, I’d try to fly really really slowly, really really near the ground, then just step out.

“Never land with a full tank of fuel.” Or a full bladder. Maybe now would be a good time to fold that origami diaper.

My favorite instruction comes next:

“Land the plane.”

Alrighty then—and after that I’ll get back to curing cancer.

“The controller will likely lead you to an airport, but if not, try to avoid obstacles.” Is the ground an obstacle? I hear The Hudson River is popular this time of year.

“Reduce power to idle by pulling the throttle all the way towards you. It is a black lever located between the pilot and co-pilot.” This would be a helpful direction except we don’t know where the pilot and co-pilot are.

The instructions then explain that during the last few seconds I’ll be using a variety of flaps, slats, throttle and reverse-thrust to slow the plane. Just in case, I’ll make a little origami air-bag.

The final step says, “Congratulations! You have landed an airplane.” My first thought was, “How do you know?” But of course if I were reading the last step, either 1) “Congratulations!” or; 2) I was skipping ahead in the instructions. Regardless, it’s good to have a positive attitude.

In honor of my success, I’ll keep my origami parachute as a souvenir.


  1. Gini+Eric

    “I’d try to fly really really slowly, really really near the ground, then just step out.”

    Oh Michael. You made me spit out my coffee.

  2. jo(e)

    I laughed aloud all the way through this.

  3. jo(e)

    (I have to add, too, that the title made me think you were going to write about something um … TOTALLY different.)

  4. YourFireAnt

    What a mind that commenter above has. Can you believe it? A college professor, a mother of 4, a…..


  5. YourFireAnt

    p.s. I thought the same thing.


  6. Terry

    I’m slow, I know, but I *just* realized you’ve started this blog! So glad!

    Fun stuff…on the other hand, I have two airplane trips coming up in the next two months so I don’t know if I wanted to learn how screwy the manuals are. I did *see* a pilot reading a manual once while we passengers were loading. Not reassuring.

  7. Diona

    Okay, I took the hint: no more free Michael in my mailbox. I suppose the least I can do is to read your blog onsite and drop the occasional snarky comment to let you know you’re appreciated. After all, you’re the best chance of a belly laugh I’ll have online all week. 🙂

    love and reliable pilots to you.

  8. Funleaded

    I saw both of those “how-tos” on google, and I NEVER dreamed of creating a parallel between them. You are, as always, my idol, Michael. I’m still laughing 🙂

  9. michaelbcampbell

    jo(e): “the title made me think you were going to write about something um … TOTALLY different”

    Really? Like what?

  10. jo(e)

    Michael: I’ll explain it to you when you’re a little older ….

  11. michaelbcampbell

    This is going to be like that “Why Your Mom Doesn’t Give You a Bath Anymore” speech, isn’t it.


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