Returning to Flight After Incident

Hi there,

I got into an incident 4 months ago during the solo xcountry flight requirement for my night rating and I’m going to start flying again soon. Are there any suggestions or advice on how I can prepare or what to expect? I’ve started commercial ground school and am reviewing all emergencies and normal flight procedures.

Thank you!


There are many factors that can go into this. I’ve unfortunately seen a few student solos end in an accident or incident.

They happen sometimes. The key is to learn from them, make necessary corrections and then move on.

I’ve personally flown with 3 pilots who’ve had incidents shortly before I instructed them. The ones that succeed are the ones who get passed it mentally.

Glad you’re ok and getting back to it. Good luck,
Chris F


Try and focus on the positives and things you do right and well. While it may be difficult, you need to move past the incident. It might help to try and look at it analytically. He’s what happened, here’s why it happened, here’s why it’s not going to happen again.


Hi Guys,

Thank you for the information. Basically what happened was that I took the side runway lights for the centreline ones and took off beside the runway. It was a bit bumpy but I took off, did my post take-off checks and everything was good, ATC cleared me outbound so I thought everything okay. Did a touch and go at the destination airport. Only when I returned did I realise that the propeller was quite damaged and one of the struts had a big dent.

Some background info: Did my night rating instrument time during the day (I didn’t know how important all training at night was until my new instructor advised this), relatively new to the 172s and aviation in general.

There is no excuse-- I was PIC. I’ve taken corrective action by completing the Night Rating courses through my online ground school.

I think I’m most worried about making such a preventable error again. It was a clear, calm night and I still made this terrible blunder in perfect conditions at my home airport.

Sometimes I feel so incompetent and question my ability to be a pilot but I also think that this has taught me to be more careful, attentive and patient. Everyone said that I was lucky that I survived that considering the damage that was done unto the prop. I did my en-route checks regularly throughout flight and the gauges were green and within normal operating range. I think I’m also worried about my decision-making skills. I should have turned back after the rough take-off, but I continued on.

I think I just have to get back in the plane and see how it goes.

Thanks again guys,

Best Regards,


It’s unfortunately happened before and will likely happen again. I know of a dual crewed airplane that landed on side lights thinking they were center lights during a foggy landing. At night briefing or reviewing expected runway lighting configurations can become very important. Would have saved that crew.
Also some metal props can take an amazing amount of damage. I once saw a T-34 where the crew attempted to land without gear and as they settled uncomfortabley low they applied GA power and glanced off the runway and then flew back to home over 70miles away. They said there was a lot of vibration but after landing both props were literally bent 90deg at about 1/3 point from spindle but they both stayed on the aircraft and flew it back.
As others said, luckily no one was injured and hopefully you have learned some lessons to keep a repeat incident from taking place.
Remember no one is perfect and never has a “perfect” flight been flown. Best a professional pilot can do is to use checklists, procedures and discipline to minimize risks to the equipment and passengers.
Believe it or not but some of the most dangerous pilots are not the newbies, they are the overconfident and/or complacent ones.

Try not to beat yourself up over it. It happened, you’re alive and now you have the opportunity to learn from it and make you a safer pilot. I can understand not trusting yourself and your abilities right now, but with each flight back hopefully
You can build that back. The best thing you can do is take one step at a time. Start by refreshing your ground knowledge after your time away. Then get back to a flight with your instructor and keep it simple, pattern work. Take baby steps back.


Thank you all so much: Chris, Adam, Hobie and Hannah.

I know what I need to do. I think I’m looking for the reassurance from objective, experienced and knowledgeable pilots such as yourselves.

I’m nervous and reluctant to get back into the air, but I know I’ll regret it if I don’t at least try.

I appreciate the advice and encouragement,

Kind Regards,



I like to think of myself as a decent pilot, hopefully better than average. I was flying into some airport in the midwest once and I was making what I thought was a nice visual approach, right up until the captain pointed out that I was lining up with the highway and not the runway. We have had professional airline pilots land on the wrong runway and yes, even the wrong airport. Bottom line, things happen, sometimes to even the most experienced people. Accept responsibility, learn from it, and move on. I am sure you will never make that mistake again.


1 Like