On March 24th, Taylor Hash was piloting her third solo flight when she was informed that a critical piece of her landing gear had fallen off her single-engine plane. The 21-year-old was frantic, imagining how she was going to be able to land her plane at the small Pontiac, Michigan, airport when a soothing voice came over the radio. Veteran pilot Chris Yates was flying in the same area and saw the nose wheel on Hash’s plane fall off and hit the ground. The former SpaceX director of aviation knew what Hash was going through and offered to help coach the young pilot on a landing without the front wheel.
Yates asks Hash what her name is and when she responds, “My name’s Taylor,” there’s a long pause before he responds, “Taylor, this is Chris. My daughter’s name is Taylor and I taught her to fly. We’re gonna be just fine, kiddo.” The reassurance from Yates was enough to help settle Hash’s nerves. "You can really tell how my voice went from frantic, 'What am I going to do?' to, 'OK, I can do this,'” Hash says. “That was 100% all thanks to him."
The veteran pilot then helped Hash through the difficult emergency landing until she was safely on the ground. "Atta kid! Nice job!" he says over the radio once she’s on the runway. "You’re OK, you're OK, you're OK. Talk to me, kid." And then she replies, “I’m good. I’m all good,” and he says “Atta girl, I’m proud of you!" Hash says as soon as Yates said, “Atta girl” she started crying. And Yates admits, “I was crying, too." The two strangers are now connected through their love of flying and this incident. One that could have been so much worse. Now they’re making plans to meet up to go flying together.