Suppose I am a passenger in a small, non-commercial plane (e.g. at most 8 seats), and the pilot suddenly dies or is otherwise incapacitated mid-flight. Suppose further that nobody else on the plane knows the first thing about flying, or that I were the only other person on the plane. I understand the basic physics of flying, and have been in airplane cockpits before for a ride, but never piloted one. Cockpits are an intimidating bank of switches and dials, and I imagine I'd have very little time to acquaint myself with them experimentally in an emergency.
What minimalistic, general information should I know in an emergency situation to try to land a small plane?
I'm looking for perhaps 5–10 fast-and-simple rules-of-thumb that would be useful in a life-or-death situation, yet easy to remember.
A great answer might include 2–3 sentence answers for things such as:
Where might I expect to find certain, key controls?
How could I contact air traffic control?
What kind of terrain should I aim for, if possible?
What rate of descent is too dangerous?
How to deploy landing gear? (What might this button look like?!)
How to control the aircraft speed, and how slow is too slow?