How to Prepare to Exit a Cessna 172 in the Event of an Emergency Landing

If you plan to use an aircraft as a means of transportation, it is important to know and follow all safety related information and directions, particularly in a small aircraft because such safety related information may be overlooked. The following sets of instructions are to be used as standard procedures in the event of an emergency landing in a Cessna 172. These instructions are very similar to many other small aircraft, such as a Cessna 150, 172, 182, 206, and the Cessna 340. In the event of an emergency aboard one of these aircraft you can refer back to what you learned here.


  1. 1
    Stay Calm. Upon notification of a failure and the potential for a crash landing, remain calm and listen to all commands given by the pilot.
  2. 2
    Ensure that your lap and shoulder belt (if installed) are tight. To fasten your seat-belt pull down on the end of the tether.
    Image titled Seatbelt_836
  3. 3
    Confirm the lap belt is around your hips and not your abdominal area. If your aircraft is equipped with a shoulder belt, secure it beside your hip and confirm that the belt runs from your hip across to your opposite shoulder.
    Image titled Lapbelt_880
  4. 4
    Make sure that your seat is in the most upright position and that it is locked in place.
  5. 5
    Look around you! Is there anything that could present a potential hazard? Stow or jettison any articles that could cause harm to either you or the aircraft. If you are wearing eyeglasses take them off and stow them in a pocket.
  6. 6
    Locate your closest exit. In a C172 there are two main doors, one located on each side of the aircraft.
  7. 7
    Identify the additional emergency exits. There is a cargo door located on the left side (if seated in a forward facing seat) of the aircraft that can be kicked out if needed. Both the front and back windows in a C172 are made out of Plexiglas, both these windows can be kicked out.
  8. 8
    Locate a heavy sweater or coat. This item will be folded into a square and placed in front of your face for cushion just prior to touchdown.
  9. 9
    Open the door before you land. If you are sitting in the co-pilot seat, the pilot will request at 200 feet (61.0 m). above the ground that you open your door and lock it open. Do not be worried you will not be sucked out and the door will just bang against the cabin.
  10. 10
    Resume the brace position for the seat you are in. On the final approach (or approximately 100 ft .above the ground), clasp your hands together and hold your head in between your knees with your elbows pointing towards the floor of the aircraft.
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    • Note: This position if for seats without shoulder belts. For positions with shoulder belts simply cross your arms across your chest as if making an “X” and hold each shoulder with a hand.
  11. 11
    Maintain the brace position as the aircraft contacts the ground. Hold the position until the aircraft comes to a complete stop.
  12. 12
    Exit the aircraft. You have already noted your closest exit, but confirm there are no hazards outside before exiting. It is extremely important that you get out of the aircraft quickly but you do not want to step out of the aircraft into fire or oil.
  13. 13
    Grab the medical kit and fire extinguisher on the way out. If you are able, bring them with you.
  14. 14
    Meet the other passengers at the back of the aircraft. This is the meeting spot where everyone will go to confirm who’s made it out and co-ordinate the rescue effort.
  15. 15
    Move away from the aircraft!
  16. 16
  17. 17
    Turn on the ELT which is normally located in the back of the aircraft. Simply flick the switch to the on position.
    Image titled ELT_177


  • If the pilot does not provide you a safety briefing, request one! This will save your life and the lives of your passengers.
  • Read any all safety placards and brochures.
  • Before the aircraft starts make sure you know how all doors operate and where your closest exit is.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Bring a cell phone with you on every flight. Make sure to tell someone where you’re going and what route your will be taking.


  • This is not a Transport Canada approved safety document. This is a set of instructions that I the writer was taught on how to prepare and exit a Cessna 172 in the event of a crash landing. This set of instructions is not aircraft specific and the user should look to the aircraft operating manual for specific emergency procedures.
  • Inform your pilot if you have any medical conditions.
  • Do not go flying if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Flying for recreation is fun but can be dangerous. Know the safety procedures for the aircraft you’re flying in and follow them.

Sources and Citations

  • Cessna 1979 Skyhawk Model 172N, Vol. 1, Cessna Aircraft Company, Wichita, Kansas: Used information from entire manual.

Article Info

Categories: Cessna Aircraft