Pilot and wife use iPads to help crash-land plane

Technically Incorrect: Over South Dakota, the electrical system fails on a single-engine plane. So using their iPads, the pilot and his wife reportedly manage to navigate their plane and land it safely on its belly.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

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

The view at Rapid City airport. What must have local staff been thinking as this plane came into land? Eric Colvin/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

You'll never get me up in a single-engine plane.

The principle reason is that it has one single engine. There seems, to my untrained brain, little room for error.

Yet over South Dakota, an unnamed pilot and his wife, whose blood pressures are clearly exemplary reacted to the loss of their plane's lone engine with singular sang-froid.

As the Associated Press reports, the unnamed couple was on a trip from Wyoming to Wisconsin. There must have been some gorgeous views from on high.

They may not have been able to enjoy them, however, as the electrical systems on their plane failed.

They reportedly turned to their iPads in order to help them navigate to an airport where they might attempt a landing. This turned out to be Rapid City Regional Airport.

The only instrument information they still had was altitude and airspeed. Of course, they had no way to let Rapid City air traffic control that they were on their way. They didn't even have landing gear.

However, Rapid City Fire Department Battalion Chief Tim Daly told the AP: "He had to be a super good pilot."

The plane landed, sparks flying, on its belly. No injuries were reported. I have contacted the Rapid City authorities to ask for further details and will update, should I hear.

There are times when gadgets on planes are simply a distraction. Only last week, a National Transportation Safety Board investigation suggested that a pilot and his passenger had been taking selfies just before they Cessna they were in crashed. They deemed it "likely" that the selfie-taking caused the crash.

In this case, however, all indications are that the iPads contributed significantly toward averting a potentially deadly accident.

I wonder how long it will be before the couple flies again.