In my years as an Egress instructor I have had some interesting questions posed to me, as well a number of misguided pilots explaining how they would personally handle a ditching.The reality is there is only seconds to react after a complete inversion, before the overwhelming reaction to being entrapped is unleashed. About that time the animal instinct to survive becomes paramount, demanding you find an air supply immediately.
To have no pre- determined escape plan for you and your passengers complicates an already extremely challenging situation while the clock rapidly dictates a positive or negative out come. To have previously experienced a similar event in a warm pool facility should this ever happen to you, proves the results are mirror image for the success rate of those trained verses untrained.
By knowing what to do and expect from previous Egress training, plus having been in water practicing life vest procedures and remembering to take one with you on the way out proves a major advantage.
There are many reasons why people are reluctant to Egress train ranging from fear of water to claustrophobia or simply not wanting to be seen as incapable of handling the scenario by ones peers. In Egress Training programs each individual has strengths and weaknesses, thus as a group we foster camaraderie and work with each person to achieve confidence and reach their highest personal potential.
Regarding ditching myths here are a few of my favorites
Number ONE and the most common misunderstood plan would be to simply watch your air bubbles once entrapped inverted and proceed to safety. The problem associated with this idea is the obvious poor visibility at best being under water, and the possibility of silty water conditions or darkness. Also you are giving up a percentage of the limited air supply held in your lungs which can not be replenished in order that you create this indicator. To add to the scenario, what if the aircraft is pointing nose down and you find yourself in the rear of the cabin totally disoriented and unable to locate the now illusive door handles behind and below you.
Number TWO and another favorite is that a calm and collected individual will open the exit and vacate the premises with ease or failing that kick out a window and swim to safety. I find most of theses personalities are covering their actual fear of water or participation in training with an arrogant attitude. Pilots who refuse to entertain even thinking about what should be done in any aircraft emergency are not only endangering themselves but also anyone they fly with. Soon after a person as mentioned above is enrolled in Egress Training and actively participating signs of uncertainty and concerns regarding the program appear. Once training is completed an admission of previous over all anxiety is replaced with a new-found respect and understanding of why Egress training is offered.
Number THREE being when flying over water climb high enough to reach land should a problem arise and simply return to a suitable clearing on shore as a glider if necessary. This is a good plan until you overnight at the opposite end of your journey and Mother Nature swaps CVOK for 500 feet obscured and now you have to be at work in less than an hour. About then you are informed by your traveling companions they also have commitments and thus just this once you must break your safety net exercised the day previous.
Number FOUR and my personal favorite for all times was explained to me while trying to sell this new concept Egress program several years ago at an aerobatic flight training center. The owner and head instructor stated emphatically that his plan should he be faced with a ditching would be to roll inverted and enter the water with the landing gear pointing skyward. In his mind this flight condition would avoid the anticipated flip caused by wheels making contact with the surface and dragging its nose downward. Considering this as an alternate procedure to the upright entry he may have wanted to consider an impact at or above 60 mph similar to a convertible automobile with his head exposed. The very fact that most aircraft front windows are constructed of light Plexiglas which will most likely depart on impact would be enough to deter me.
After researching this misconceived maneuver I was unable to find any information substantiating its merits as no one has ever tried it is partly why I would not want to be the first.
Who is Bry – The Dunker Guy?
Bryan Webster has flown in excess of 11.000 hours over the past 30 years and is yet today flying commercially in Cessna’s and De Havilland Beavers on the BC coast. His past experience was partially responsible for realizing aviation was lacking in pilot Egress training and formed Aviation Egress Systems at Victoria BC in 1998. Pilots and passengers are now able to train for ditching light aircraft in a one day program at a reasonable cost.
Bryan has also written a book on aviation egress called “Ditching Principles” which is now available on his web-site.
For further information contact Bry “The Dunker Guy” at 250-704-6401 or