High-interest reading article about CHARACTER.

An airplane wheel falls off the landing gear during take-off and the pilots are able to successfully land the plane with no injuries!

The implied takeaway message to infer is that although it’s scary being up in the air with a missing landing wheel, the pilots were able to stay in control and land the plane safely (instead of panicking.) 

Pilots are people. With training, experience, and hard work, pilots develop the mental toughness and character required to stay in control and achieve their goal of getting everyone on the ground, despite unexpected obstacles. 

This article goes well with the ASKING QUESTIONS reading strategy.

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Airplane wheel falls off during takeoff in Canada

In January 2020, a wheel fell off the landing gear of a plane during takeoff.

The flight left Montreal, Quebec but it had to return to the airport. 49 passengers and 3 crew members were onboard. The pilots did an excellent job landing the plane. No one was injured.

Tom Van-Aken was one of the passengers. He saw sparks around the tire so he made a video and posted it online. As the plane lifts off, you can see one of the two wheels under the left-wing falls off.

The passenger joked online, “I’m currently on a plane that just lost a wheel. 2020 starting off well.”

People watched this 5-second video over 140,000 times. Tom Podolec is a senior journalist at CTV News. He got more footage from the passenger that showed the plane landing. The journalist then tweeted this longer video. People watched this longer video over 1.3 million times!

Dave Cohen is a USAF pilot and flight instructor. He saw the landing video and complimented the pilot. “Awesome job holding the left gear off as long as possible… excellent technique!”

Several news outlets ran the story. Some headlines were dramatic. The headline from the New Zealand Herald was “Terrified passenger films moment wheel falls from plane.”

A spokesperson for Jazz Aviation named Manon Stuart wrote about what happened. “Our experienced pilots kept complete control of the aircraft. Our pilots are trained to react to such situations and reacted conforming to proper procedure.”

Michael Hollan is an associate editor for Fox News. In his news article, he gave more details from the airline.

“During takeoff… one of the two wheels on the left main landing gear became detached. The Dash 8-300 aircraft is equipped with six tires – two on the right landing gear, two on the left, and two on the nose wheel landing gear. The experienced pilots maintained complete control of the aircraft. Our pilots are well trained to deal with such situations and responded according to our standard operating procedures. After burning some fuel, the aircraft returned to Montreal and landed safely. There were no injuries. Emergency vehicles were called as a precautionary measure — the safety of our passengers and crew is our top priority. Our maintenance personnel in Montreal are conducting a thorough inspection of the aircraft to determine the cause and proceed with the necessary repairs.”

A news outlet contacted the passenger who made the first video. He said the landing was the most serious part. “We started to be serious and we didn’t make jokes at this time. When the landing was completed we were very happy because the pilot did a very good job.”

Character Mini-Lesson

When we say somebody has strong character, what we really mean is that person has the mental toughness to get through hard times and achieve their goals.

Anyone can learn to be more resilient and develop a habit of trying to persevere.

One way to build that mental toughness is to realize that success is based on hard work, learning, training and not giving up. This is the idea behind a Growth Mindset.

The opposite of a Growth Mindset is a Fixed Mindset which is when we believe that we succeed based on what we were born with. You either have it, or you don’t.

FYI, just because we’re in a Growth Mindset sometimes, doesn’t mean we’re always in a Growth Mindset. And, vice-versa. Sometimes, even Growth Mindset experts slip into a fixed mindset. If you find yourself in a Fixed Mindset, you can choose to put yourself back into a Growth Mindset.

When you feel like giving up, just know that you can jump from a Growth Mindset to a Fixed Mindset by adding the word “yet” to the end of a sentence. Instead of saying, “I can’t do this,” try saying, “I can’t do this, yet.” Yet helps us wonder how we could do this. It’s a shift in mindset. 

Shifting from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset is the beginning of a conversation about how to develop character. Building character takes time. When we fail and figure out a way to get up and climb over obstacles, we learn from our mistakes, but we also start to build confidence and realize that we can get through tough times. Overcoming little failures helps us build mental toughness. We start to build a habit of trying, and the more we try, the more we build character.

Reading Comprehension Questions

  1. How will this emergency have an impact on other airlines and training?
  2. Could this incident have been avoided in your opinion?
  3. How did the pilots show grit, tenacity, resilience, or perseverance?
  4. Why do you think the pilots were able to handle the stress of not having a wheel?

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