Men are weirdly confident they could land a plane in an emergency. We asked them to explain

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Updated Jan 5, 2024 at 03:23 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

Alright, men have officially brought the delulu trend to another level—to the skies. Forget about the viral Roman Empire, this latest TikTok trend involves a mix of men, planes, and a dash of overconfidence that might leave you questioning the cockpit decisions of your average dude.

Renowned historian Dame Mary Beard, in her boundless wisdom, proposes that reflecting on the Roman Empire provides contemporary men with “a secure space for expressing their machismo.” After all, what spells macho more than togas and chariots? But Beard is yet to explain why men believe they could safely land a passenger aeroplane in case of an emergency.


#greenscreen channelling the confidence of a man who believes he can land a plane with no flying experience 🙏 #delulu

♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys - Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey

The question on everyone’s mind? “Do you think you could land a plane in an emergency?” And surprise, surprise—the resounding answer is a stupidly confident “yes.”

According to a YouGov study, one in three Americans believe they could pull off a Top Gun-level landing. Among men, that number skyrockets to 46 per cent. All that being said, a seasoned pilot revealed that an untrained passenger in the cockpit would likely result in a “semi-controlled crash.” Yep, we should have seen that one coming.

To put the theory to the test, we asked a diverse group of men from the SCREENSHOT team to answer the million-dollar question. Heads up, it was a mixed bag.

I first spoke to Josh, 22, video editor who said: “I’ve thought about this many times before. I am very confident in my ability to land an aeroplane. Honestly, all I need to know is what is the landing gear switch and I’ll bring it down smoothly.”

Then came Emmanuel, 24, also a video editor, who candidly shared: “Nope. No survivors… But I think it would depend on how far from the ground we were. If it wasn’t complicated and I had enough time to get used to the weighting and control then it’s possible but realistically, if that were to happen, I’m failing miserably. Pilots need 1,500 hours of flight experience for a reason.”

Med, a 30-year-old original content executive, expressed his perspective on the hypothetical situation: “If I were put in that situation I’d say that there is a 37 per cent chance that the plane won’t crash, 23 per cent if it’s an easyJet plane.”

Last but certainly not least, I turned to Alin, a 25-year-old video editor, who expressed confidence in his response: “I have experience playing a plane simulator from my childhood, and I believe I’ve developed muscle memory. With careful thought and precision, I feel confident in safely landing a plane, taking into account the specific characteristics of the aircraft model.”

Taken aback by these responses? Well, for all those daring souls out there who genuinely believe they can effortlessly land a massive commercial jet, let me jog your memory a bit.

As you might have guessed (that is, if you identify as female or non-binary), landing a plane is way more complicated than it sounds. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), in its quest to elevate safety standards for airline pilots, introduced a rule that sternly declares both first officers and captains must possess the prestigious Air Transport Pilot Certificate (ATP). This coveted certification demands a total of 1,500 hours of pilot experience, with a specific 250 hours reserved for donning the title of Pilot in Command.

As if that wasn’t enough, pilots are then obliged to acquire an aircraft type rating, involving a specialised training regimen tailored to the specific aeroplane they aspire to navigate. In other words, it’s not your run-of-the-mill joyride, folks.

So, before you entertain the fantasy of being a daring solo pilot in the cockpit, let’s not forget that autopilot might be the unsung hero. Consider what we’ve just laid out because, let’s face it, for many of us, the most interaction we’ve had with autopilot is accidentally activating Siri on our phones.

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