Okay, so you’re a 30-hour glider pilot giving your brother, who has autism, a ride in a Schweizer SGS 2-33 when at low altitude, the towline breaks. This is the situation that 20-year-old newly minted glider pilot Aryanna Valdovinos found herself in recently, and how she responded was nothing short of inspiring.
The in-cockpit video of the young pilot is a prime example of how you handle emergencies, whether you have 10 hours or 10,000.
Flying out of Warner Springs, California, Gliderport, about 50 miles northeast of San Diego, Aryanna had just lifted off on tow behind a Super Cub when the rope broke.
Her composure is remarkable—she deployed the spoilers immediately and slipped to get where to what looked like the most friendly spot available. Neither Aryanna nor her brother got a scratch, and neither did the glider, which went back into service that very day.
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Many of the commenters on her uncle’s Facebook page, where the video was first posted, wanted her to know just how they felt about her performance under pressure.
“I-m an 18,000-hour former airline captain and DPE. I've never seen anyone handle an emergency that calmly. Bravo!”
“[I’m an] 11,000-hour guy, everything from Cubs, seaplanes, gliders to 747 & 777s…and everything in between. Instructor at many levels. All I can say is that this was handled perfectly. Best I've seen. She's a natural. Excellent job!!”
“Astronaut material. Big time. I’m saving this video for when I need to explain what “pilot in command” means. Fantastic.”
“Very, very impressive! Kept her cool...didn’t worry her passenger...nice slip....kept flying the glider until it came to a complete stop. 👍”
“That glider doesn’t need AC, because that pilot is cool as ice throughout the whole situation! Great work!”
“She rocks. She should keep this video handy for every interview she ever goes to.”
Aryanna is currently working on her Private Pilot certificate with the goal of becoming an airline pilot. All we can say about that is, we can’t wait to fly with her. What about her brother? Well, Aryanna gave him a not-so-crazy glider ride a short while later, and he said it was an awesome present.