Skip To Content

    Pilots Are Sharing The Scariest Things They've Seen While Flying, And I'm Officially At A Loss For Words

    "I loaded an aircraft with a wild boar once. Never been so scared in my life."

    I don't know about you, but I've always been a liiiittle curious about what pilots see and experience when they're flying a plane.

    So, when redditor u/miercole_s recently asked the internet, "Pilots, what’s the scariest stuff you’ve seen while flying?" I was pretty intrigued, and honestly, the responses were very shocking.

    A commercial plane flying before landing

    Here are some of the most interesting — and unexpected — ones:

    1. "I had a near miss with a twin engine that was flying at the wrong altitude in the opposite direction. Imagine oncoming traffic, one lane over — it was that close. Now imagine a speed difference of about 300 knots."

    "The f**ker hadn't said a word on the radio, so I had no idea he was even in the area until he was behind me."


    2. "Bush pilot here. Loaded an aircraft with a 200-kilogram (about 441 pounds) 'dead' wild boar once. Climbed to cruising altitude, and the thing starts squealing and unraveling from its straps — its head was poking out of the bag, looked right at me and went apesh*t."

    "Never been so scared in my life."


    3. "There were power lines directly in front of me at night that weren't charted and were exactly at helicopter-grabbing altitude."


    4. "A few years ago, my dad was flying a 737 somewhere around Las Vegas on the way back to Toronto. It was later in the evening, so you couldn't see too much — but all of a sudden, he saw a really bright ball of light to the left of the plane, moving really fast across the sky. A few days later, he found out that what he saw was a missile launched by a USN submarine."

    5. "I had thunderstorms on either side when I was in a Cessna 152 (a bit smaller than a C172). They developed pretty quickly, and we thought we'd have to turn back, but there was a big enough opening to fly through."

    "The windshield got nice and clean too."


    6. "I saw a blimp from front on at the same altitude as me and had no idea what it was. I freaked out over what that giant floating metallic sphere could be for a few minutes...before realizing it was a blimp."


    7. "Almost had two mid-air collisions. One due to a new pilot not being where he should be, another due to control telling me an aircraft was at me 11:00 when really it was at me 2:00."


    8. "My dad is a former pilot. He once told me about how he almost crashed his Cessna because he hit some geese. He was actually preparing for a landing approach when he hit geese flying in a patch of fog. Windshield was completely shattered, and he and his passenger were covered in blood and feathers."

    A group of geese fly together in the sky

    9. "Saw a fox in the middle of the runway, laying on its back and sunbathing, while I’m headed straight towards it on takeoff. The fox was okay — still sunbathing and chilling."


    10. "The coolest thing I've seen was a meteor that burned up directly in front of me. Same altitude, straight ahead. I have no idea how far away it was, but it was bright and so pretty. Went through a spectrum of colors as it burned."


    11. "I was landing a Cessna 172, and this massive blue heron appeared out of nowhere — just barely missed hitting my windshield. I don’t think I’ve ever been more scared."


    12. "I saw a skydiver about 20 yards off my wing. Was flying a 172 into an uncontrolled field that I’ve flown into 100 times before — not knowing that after a five-year skydiving ban, they were allowing it on a case-by-case basis."

    A skydiver falling over a rural landscape

    13. "There was smoke in the cockpit. Thankfully, it was when I landed. I had to push the airplane (a small Cessna) off the runway."


    14. "I took a few flying lessons years ago just for the experience. We were practicing landings, as we’re going down, the instructor notices a shadow on the ground slightly to our right — it was another plane going to land on our runway and was above us."

    "We had radioed our intentions earlier, but don’t know if he did. The instructor took over and peeled off. The guy didn’t land...just kept going. We circled and came in. Apparently, no one saw a damn thing."


    15. "I saw the engine start shaking when a part of the oil system blew. I thought it would die on me."

    "Then, I'd have to land in some farmland or on a small road. Fortunately, we ended up being stuck with one power setting (which was also pretty bad) and could fly it back to the airport."


    16. "My father was a commercial pilot, and in the late 1970s, his plane and crew were delayed landing because there was quite literally an unidentified flying object on the radar that the tower was tracking."

    17. "I nearly had a bird strike with what I believe to be an eagle while flying a very small DA-40 and on final."

    "It’s wild how something that appears to be so small can be massive and in your face in the matter of a second."


    18. "Seeing helicopters or drones flying low and coming full speed towards you."


    And finally...

    19. "My dad's a private pilot, and his engine went out once when he was flying. He was alone and had quite a bit of panic, but eventually, he was able to land."

    YIKES. Fellow pilots, what's the scariest or weirdest things you've seen while flying? Let us know in the comments below!

    Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.