Watch stunt pilot miraculously recover after plane's engine dies

Commentary: It's all very well practicing spins and loops, but when Chad Barber's single engine died, all he had was a relatively level head.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Going down.

Caters News/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

It doesn't matter whether they're jets at the Paris Air Show or little propeller planes sponsored by a soft drinks company.

We're happy to raptly stare as they perform maneuvers that make our stomachs feel a touch queasy.

Sometimes, though, things can go wrong. Even when the stunt pilots are just practicing.

Here, then, is footage of Chad Barber happily rehearsing a few tricky maneuvers in his biplane above Coral Springs, Florida. 

He turns it this way, then that. Then upside down.

But, just as the plane has leveled again, the engine dies and the plane begins to plummet toward the ground, nose first.

Everything goes eerily quiet. Save, perhaps, for the chattering of Barber's teeth.

The YouTube posting says that Barber had never encountered such a life-threatening event before.

It describes him as being "in a state of disbelief."

Personally, I would have been in a state of mental dismemberment. Or in the state I was in for three months after eating very bad shellfish.

Here, though, Barber seems to have held on to a sufficient number of his faculties in order to perform some checks as the plane glided ever downward.

Somehow, he got the engine restarted and all was well. I can only hope that this wasn't merely a stunt to frighten us all for fun.

Please, all you amateur and professional pilots, save me the insistence that this was just a routine event, one that any skillful pilot could have handled. 

This was frightening. Very frightening.  

Correction: 11:10 p.m.: An original version of the article says the video shows the plane landing. This is not the case.