This was a sad story, the bloke had a big night before his flight and set the autopilot. He drifted off to sleep and woke up well over the ocean and after air traffic control had tried to call him for about an hour. He was discharged from the course because the doctors couldn't find a reason for him to pass out like that, so they declared him unfit to fly. If he owned up he probably would have been slapped on the wrist and could have finished, but I guess its a good outcome for the travelling public.
You never think about this when you drive a car really do you? But in the air its a big deal, our petrol stations are a long way apart and we can't push the aircraft down the road. Not knowing how much fuel you need is basically a death sentence. Needless to say the kid did not fly that day.
This was told to me by another instructor. Often our students go out on long trips to build hours and experience. This guy had landed just before last light and did the right thing by refuelling, but to see how much fuel he had in the tanks he needed to use a torch but it didn't work, so he grabbed a cigarette lighter out of his pocket and lit it. Near the opening to the fuel tank. Full of fuel. This kid is lucky to be alive!
This happens far too often. When they first learn to navigate (after about 50 hours of learning how to handle an aircraft) we teach them from paper maps - GPS and radio navigation aids come later. But the map is the ultimate guide, don't have it, don't know where you are! There aren't any street signs where we're going.
Every. Single. Time. Students don't want to tell you they did something wrong, but then the control tower calls you and tells you they tried to land the opposite direction to other aircraft or failed to ask for clearance before takeoff. Too many to describe. Ultimately learning is about making mistakes, but owning them and figuring out how not to make them again in the future!
This was hilarious and happened during my training. A mate of mine got this amazing new girlfriend and smuggled her onto a solo navigation flight he was doing. Turns out she got really badly airsick and threw up the entire way. He needed to complete the flight so pushed on. The plane was covered in sick when he got back. He eventually owned up that it wasn't him, but damn it was funny. This is one of the reasons low hours pilots don't take passengers. They are still together and she no longer gets airsick, what a happy ending!
Top of descent challenge - calculate how long it will take you to descend to your destination. You have this long to remove all of your clothes and take a selfie. You then get dressed again before landing. You then must get out of the aircraft and refuel with as much or as little clothing you have on. These usually happened when you were flying solo but in company of other aircraft. This student was a champ, she owned it and was proud of having a go. Most of the dudes were wimps when it came to getting out of the aircraft.
I'm always there to take control when students do something stupid. We are there to teach them not to make stupid mistakes. But too often I am just trying to end another day at work with my life intact, but sometimes you get too comfortable. This guy had an epiphany on short final to landing and so let go of the controls and pulled out his note book. I quickly grabbed the controls and aborted the landing. A few choice words were then expressed, I'll be honest.