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Harrowing Video of Seaplane Forced Landing in Cornfield

Quick action was required for an outside-the-box landing

Here’s a nail-biter. When a small two-seat pusher seaplane, flown by a student, experiences a “fuel rail failure” at about 600 feet AGL, a CFI named Tony Yen instantly takes control to land in a soft cornfield. Both pilots appear rather, um, sweaty as they jump free of the aircraft, and that’s entirely understandable.

Yen was kind enough to post the incident complete with comprehensive narration for the aviation community to learn from. While simply thrilling from the safety of your armchair, it’s also a great example of how aviators can learn from each other’s experiences to improve overall flight safety.

The video opens with what sounds like a healthy engine making climb power before things turn sour at the 7-second mark. We see a FAR/AIM book resting on the glareshield under an aluminum kneeboard, which thankfully stays put through the entire sequence. It’s interesting to note that the 5-second “startle and reaction time” delay mentioned by accident investigators in recent years does not seem to be a problem for Yen. When the engine fails, he reacts immediately, executes a quick “flow” style emergency checklist and commits to land.

Seaplane pilot Tony Yen
Tony Yen

Yen explains his need to lower the nose and build speed on final to ensure adequate airspeed for a flare—a move that visibly frightens his student but helps Yen “fly the plane as far into the crash as possible,” as the late, great Bob Hoover often advised us.

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