While attending the AOPA Expo convention in Philadelphia at the end of October I had the good fortune to attend a lecture by Dr. Ian Fries on the subject of surviving an emergency landing. One of the best survival techniques is to contact the ground with the plane flying under control and at the lowest safe speed. Those are very nice words, but as a practical matter how do we make sure that that actually happens?
We all teach our students that in the event of an engine failure we should slow the plane to the best glide speed and trim to maintain that speed. When teaching, I retard the throttle to idle to simulate an engine failure and the student starts to trim, tentatively at first, and then more aggressively, trying to get the Cessna 172 to slow down to 65 knots and stay there. Most aviators, students and experienced pilots alike, are not accustomed to making that great a trim change so it takes them a very long time to get it somewhere near the right speed. That time could be better spent picking a place to land, declaring an emergency, and attempting a restart.