Invoking the styling of classic spy stories, this essay provides an account of a commercial aviation emergency landing that blew the agent/author's “cover” as a full participant ethnographer. Using an experimental autoethnographic format, the piece offers an evocative portrayal of a perceived near-death experience and its aftermath, as well as critical commentary on writing autoethnography with a fictionalized framing. In the closing “debrief,” the author sheds her agent persona to describe the process of writing about traumatic events and to analyze how those events focus attention on methodological and ethical considerations for qualitative research.

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