June 24, 2017

What Would You Do: Plane Crash

It’s been a while since I have posted a “What would you do?”, so I thought today is about time.

You and your husband/wife/best friend are on a late fall vacation and are given a discounted rate to a local tourist attraction.  It’s a two hour flight leaving at 4:00 PM that explores some of the most popular landmarks and scenery in the area, showing off the fall colors. The flight offers a small snack and drink at the half way point.  Shortly after the one hour mark the plane flies into a flock of large birds, possibly geese.  One of the birds breaks through the windshield and has either killed or knocked the pilot out.  The plane was at an altitude of maybe 1000 feet and you’re quickly crash landing into a wooded area.  From the crash the fuselage is nearly ripped in half, the radio is destroyed and fuel is leaking from the only remaining wing.

There were a total of twelve people on board, not including the pilot.  Only four others including your husband/wife/best friend are responding.  Your husband/wife/best friend has a broken leg, one of the others who is responding is bleeding heavily from the head, but seems alert.  You and one other flier are relatively unhurt.  You cannot tell immediately if the others who have not responded are simply unconscious or dead.

It’s an hour before you’re expected back, but it might be longer before any worry is aroused.  It could be a couple hours before anyone even knows something has happened.

What would you do?

(Check the comments section to see the answers from everyone as well as to add your own.)



  1. It’s getting dark and cold. First things first, I have to get the bleeding stopped on the head wound and see if there is anything I can do for my wife’s broken leg. Once the emergent first aid things are tended to, to the best of our ability, I start with the rule of three’s and the five basic human needs.

    If the leaking jet fuel is making the air toxic, I either need to plug it or move people. If it’s not making the air inside the cabin toxic, getting a container to catch some would be a great idea. I don’t know if all planes take the same type of fuel, but in the Navy they used JP5, which I was told had a very high flashpoint, meaning it would take more heat to ignite. Someone once told me you could throw a lit cigarette in it and it would just put it out.

    Now that the air source has been addressed, we need to make the shelter of the remaining cabin as enclosed as possible to retain heat. We also need to get those who’re unresponsive moved to a safer place if they’re alive, and outside if they’re dead. It might also be a good idea to take any jackets or warm clothing they were wearing. This might sound cruel, but if I am unhurt, it is my job to keep everyone else as safe as possible and that means keeping them warm.

    To bring attention to the group from the air, I would soak some of the plane seat cushions in the leaking fuel, place them in three separate piles as a signal and then light them when I heard a plane. One of the uninjured should be looking for dry firewood to add to those fires.

    Having a small fire nearby as a light and heat source is also a good idea. It could also help keep curious animals away. We could use the flare to ignite the fire. Getting a good sized branch to use as a club might not hurt either.

    The only thing left to do is to keep checking on the wounded and helping in any way I can. Using the food and drink cart to for anyone who needs it.

    Since the same or similar route is flown every flight, the airport should have some idea of where the plane should have been, so rescue should only be a matter of hours.

  2. Renard Gervais says:

    What Would You Do: Plane Crash

    Response –

    First, stop. Observe, assess.

    What I know:

    There are two people I’m most immediately concerned about – myself and my husband/wife/best friend.

    It is late fall and we are in a region north of Georgia around 5:00 p.m. and the weather has been cold enough to cause the tree foliage to turn colors. I realize that this means it likely I’ve less than 2 hours of sunlight left to work with.

    We have either just eaten a small snack and had a drink or were doing so at the time the incident we are in occurred.

    Knowing that a flock of birds has caused this incident, I am assuming that the plane was heading north due to the usual seasonal migration patterns of large avians. Furthermore, as the pilot was incapacitated to some degree to the point of total loss of consciousness, I will further assume that the plane most likely is still nose-to north.

    Seeing the condition of the plane, I also assume that at least half the fuel is still remaining in the tanks or is currently leaking out as noted, requiring me to get my ‘act’ together quickly. This is a primary concern. In addition, having the knowledge that the radio is destroyed, I would be scanning my eyes for electrical short-circuits; thus, sparks or high temperature wire faults. Looking for smoke. I cannot take the time to assume any hypothetical chemical nature of the fuel.

    There are only 4 of us able to take physical action and respond. My immediate concern about my husband/wife/best friend is allayed and I can turn my attention to the head-wound bleeder; provided that is, there is no fire present at the moment. Any tight wrap around the wound will take but moments to secure that ‘other’s’ problem for the time being.

    The broken leg ‘guest’ [ it does not say – “husband/wife/best friend” ; rather – “guest”; therefore, I must continue as to follow my response] requires the leg immobilized and supported by some means. If possible, all remaining aboard must get out and to the ground or out to the area some 25 yards or more from the plane.

    The 4, including the now quickly bandaged head-wound, set about moving the ‘broken-leg’ out of the plane by any means possible using whatever is available for the most temporary of supports for the damaged limb.

    Once all 5 are clear of the immediate zone of the plane, the other person along with myself, will re-enter the plane if possible and still considered ‘safe’ to see about the others still aboard. That is, the 8 people, including the pilot, who were left behind during the first egress.

    As the plane is being re-entered, the ‘head-wound’ and the other 2 conscious but injured persons (including ‘Broken-leg’ will be asked to either use their personal communication devices or be given any that may be present on the persons of the two uninjured while the re-entry of the plane is done – to see if any contact can be made in the locale all find themselves in. 911 using all possible devices. Otherwise, if no devices are present – they sit tight and wait. ‘Head-wound’ and the other injured person are asked to do what they can to further assist the ‘broken-leg’.

    The dead are left in-situ. The wounded/injured are moved out as fast as possible. Only the two of us – the totally uninjured – will take on this task. Any blankets, or other warmth conserving materials found and able to be rapidly salvaged will be used as ‘drags’ or litters to move the unconscious, both for the purpose of body removal and for the coming cool/cold evening. The injured removal will be done as fast as possible, selecting the least visibly injured persons first for retrieval.

    A lot depends on the number of live found, the conditions of the plane as regards fire or other safety considerations, the possible treatment steps that may be able to be taken for the injured retrieved, what possessions are recoverable and/or on the persons of the people now clear of the plane. From this point forward there are insufficient facts known to take or suggest much in the way of additional steps.

    • Good stuff Renard! I left some of the information vague so it could fit different peoples locals etc. Your response was very good, asking the wounded to use cell phones completely slipped past me, great idea. Oh and the broken leg was the husband/wife/friend.

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