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Ditching and Sea Survival

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Ditching and Sea Survival

Old 8th Nov 2016, 12:41
  #21 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Canada
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I should say that in your neck of the woods I was considered a bit wet for wearing the kit and your compatriots seemed to go on much more hairy trips day to day in Alaska/Canadian arctic.
Very true! There is a poor minded culture in North America, with respect to risk taking, and I influence it whenever I have the opportunity. One of our float flying mates crashed and sunk his float PA-18 years back. He got out okay, but spent three nights on shore with nothing at all, until found. So, When I fly remote I wear a life jacket whose pockets are full of a day or so of things I would want to have. For those of my mates who don't, I remind them - some people, even nice ones, still don't listen.

Three weeks ago I was searching for a duck hunter who had fallen out of his canoe. The search conditions could not have been better, and he was in less than 10 feet of very clear water. But, with no lifejacket on, and bulky camouflage hunting clothes, I could not see him on the bottom at all. I think the police found his body days later after a very expensive search.

Happily, as a result of a number of very sad accidents in floatplanes in Canada, rules are changing, and some wearing of lifejackets will be mandatory - there are still formal detractors!

I agree that there is the argument that it's unfair to ask you to risk your life fishing me out of some awkward situation that I have got myself into ..... but you don't have to do that job - could it be that you quite enjoy it?
Well.... There is some satisfaction in the job, yes, but I do it as my contribution to make my community a better (and safer) place. I was asked to join our local Fire Department 25 years ago, and felt a duty to accept (they needed the help). Having me in the air in minutes notice was very attractive to them - I fly a dozen to twenty searches a year. I do enjoy finding someone, who I know would otherwise have not survived unrescued. I certainly don't enjoy picking up pieces of a person on the roadside, or 20 minutes of CPR that did not work.

As citizens of a society where our natural reaction is to do something to care for another person, we are honour bound to take reasonable steps to prevent valueless risk to ourselves and to public service providers. It is no value to me that someone wants to take risks for their thrills, and will still call 911 (999/112) if something goes unplanned. If a person chooses to remove themselves from society, and seek no aid, that's entirely their choice.
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Old 8th Nov 2016, 12:55
  #22 (permalink)  
 
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Yes, it's different here. There is little encouragement for us to jump in and help this side of the pond. A pity, I like the community spirit I felt in N Canada/Alaska. I can see in your case that it's especially annoying to have to go and rescue people who have taken stupid risks and/or were unprepared when it was quite easy to be ready for the unexpected.
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Old 8th Nov 2016, 13:31
  #23 (permalink)  
 
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Hmm... A lot of the caving, mountain rescue teams and lifeboats in the UK are volunteers. It's true that police helicopters would take on the aerial search role, but taking unnecessary risks does potentially impact on people's goodwill and livelihoods (a lifeboat call probably means a goodly chunk out of a day's pay for several self-employed fishermen).
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Old 8th Nov 2016, 16:33
  #24 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
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No amount of training would prepare me for ditching. I can't swim and I hate deep water. If the engine cut out and there was no land I would die of a heart attack before touching the water! I have seen videos of people being flipped upside down in the drink. How does anybody seriously get the canopy fully open, unharnessed and slide out a light aircraft upside down underwater. It amazes me, and I doubt my thoughts on this are uncommon. We aren't all royal marines!

If you do a cross channel trip UK to France, without having the stats and facts to hand, roughly how long are you out of gliding distance of land? Or rather, what is the minimum amount of time and what altitude do you need, ball park? (I will obviously look this up when I attempt this).
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Old 8th Nov 2016, 17:03
  #25 (permalink)  
 
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I did my fair share of survival training when younger but took a refresher dunking day not long ago. It is amazing how less able I was to cope in cold water at my now-retired age than I used to when I was younger (I can’t even remember feeling the cold 50 years ago). I see so many people treating a long trip (English Channel, Irish Sea, etc or even France/Spain to Majorca) as no different to a trip over land and, in a single-engine over water, they still leave the life jackets in the baggage bay.
Even when I am overland, I carry a ditching kit with PLB, thermal blankets, signal lights.
The problem is that decent survival kit is expensive. The jackets that pilot shops sell at 100 or less is pretty poor for aviation use but that is all they offer. I was looking for a life-jacket with pockets (similar to military ones) to carry a PLB, knife, signal flares/light and you are looking at 800 plus (something from Switlik might suit but still not cheap if you can even buy them in the UK). Does anyone make a GA-friendly dry-suit in the UK? All I have seen a dingy ones that might do.
I think the problem is that Europeans think that rescue is never far away.

Last edited by Bob Upanddown; 8th Nov 2016 at 17:21. Reason: spelling
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Old 8th Nov 2016, 20:07
  #26 (permalink)  

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Brad, your questions are answered further up the thread.
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Old 9th Nov 2016, 00:57
  #27 (permalink)  
 
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I can't swim and I hate deep water. If the engine cut out and there was no land I would die of a heart attack before touching the water!
Simple way to handle this concern: Don't fly over water.

I took three new firefighters in our fireboat for marine training last year. As a par tof the training, I had each lean overboard to recover an object form the water. One fellow then declared he could not swim. Silly me, I had never thought to ask!

Now, we have a swim program, If you can't do 15 minutes with no lifejacket, unassisted, you cannot be marine qualified. There we were, all the old guys, in the pool, proving we could do it too, after all these years! We all passed. No new hires who cannot pass the swim test.
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Old 9th Nov 2016, 13:24
  #28 (permalink)  
 
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I used to go through far more stringent ditching training than I do now. A long time ago I tried ditching for real. Knowing it was coming was frightening, the impact worse than I could ever have expected and the aftemath dreadful.

A number of years ago I posted this http://www.pprune.org/5446330-post50.html on a similar thread.

Never, ever again............

SND
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Old 9th Nov 2016, 15:46
  #29 (permalink)  
 
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I was also trained to a similar standard to TOFO, and recognise all his points. All I would add is a caution about complacency regarding survival equipment. HAVING it is not going to save your life- you have to be current in its use, and to have treated it respectfully. For a start, it is, generally, not comfortable gear (unless it's changed a lot).

There is a salutory story of an 80s RAF jet pilot who found the attached socks on the legs of his goon suit uncomfortable. So he pressured the safety equipment people to (against the rules) fit rubber seals like the ones at the wrists. Ok so far... Then he found the rubber, er, rubbed his bare skin, so he began to wear the seals over his socks- he'd just need to tug up the seals to get them rubber to skin in an emergency. Sharp guys the zoomies, so no problem... When the big day came and he ejected over (I think) the North Sea, he got out safely, cleared his chute, but forgot the leg seals. He died of exposure due to wicking up the socks and onto his bunny suit. The shock TOFO refers too is real, and even in drills. He'd be alive if he had respected his kit over his comfort.

TOFO, remember that incident?

CG
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Old 10th Nov 2016, 08:43
  #30 (permalink)  
 
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Given the low number of private aircraft, engine failure related ditchings around the UK, set against the high number of over-water flights, what are the odds of me having to ditch on a private flight? Higher or lower than winning the Lottery?
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Old 10th Nov 2016, 09:44
  #31 (permalink)  
 
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CG

Not sure about the sock story but along similar lines if I recall it correctly there was a nav (Bucc?j who died, I think off Norway, because rather than wear a g-suit he had simply stuck an open ended g-suit hose through the appropriate opening on his immersion suit.

Most importantly as you say it's not just about having the kit, it is repecting it and knowing how to use it.
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Old 10th Nov 2016, 10:01
  #32 (permalink)  
 
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It's all very well saying "wear the kit or die". IMHO it's not that simple for the average GA pilot. Take the example of flying across some cold water near the UK on a warm spring day, if one wears gear suitable for keeping oneself alive in the VERY unlikely event of ending up in the water you get so hot it probably impairs judgement and flying ability so you are more likely to end up making a stupid mistake and getting wet.
Ergonomics and comfort do matter for safety.
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Old 10th Nov 2016, 10:25
  #33 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Romeo Tango View Post
It's all very well saying "wear the kit or die". IMHO it's not that simple for the average GA pilot.....
Ergonomics and comfort do matter for safety.
Not disagreeing but the mil pilots have had exactly the same issue and managed (even without air ventilated suits or decent air conditioning) after my practical "test" I took to wearing/flying in the immersion suit (albeit with reduced layers underneath) when on QRA even if summer because of the risk of being sent up north.
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Old 10th Nov 2016, 10:27
  #34 (permalink)  
 
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It's all very well saying "wear the kit or die". IMHO it's not that simple for the average GA pilot. Take the example of flying across some cold water near the UK on a warm spring day, if one wears gear suitable for keeping oneself alive in the VERY unlikely event of ending up in the water you get so hot it probably impairs judgement and flying ability so you are more likely to end up making a stupid mistake and getting wet.
Ergonomics and comfort do matter for safety.
Are you transiting over water, or crossing a river or lake? Cardiff to Exeter is an over water flight, Swansea to Pembrey is cutting an edge. I would plan and resource accordingly.

CG
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Old 10th Nov 2016, 10:31
  #35 (permalink)  
 
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I can see it's different for the mil. Ending up in the water is part of the job description. Though I would still imagine one is more likely to do a good job if comfortable.

Last edited by Romeo Tango; 10th Nov 2016 at 11:08.
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Old 10th Nov 2016, 11:14
  #36 (permalink)  
 
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It is great to read advice from someone with a wealth of experience in this area. I have one minor quibble and one major question on this. The phrase
any significant distance from the coast
in relation to carrying a dinghy should possibly read "any significant distance from potential rescue". In some parts of the UK, and large parts of the rest of the world, that is not the same thing at all!
The question relates to the rather strongly worded part about liferafts:
Attach it to the aircraft and it will sink with it, or have arse ripped out of it. It needs to be attached to YOU!
I have certainly heard that before, almost always with at least one exclamation mark, and often in capitals. The snag is that this is contrary to the advice of the liferaft manufacturer. I asked this question of an instructor while attending the (highly recommended) GASCo ditching & sea survival course, who replied by turning the liferaft over and pointing out the weak link in the inflation cord. He also mentioned that yotty liferafts do not possess such a weak link, for some plausible reason that I cannot recall, so I suppose it is a question of know-your-kit. I have to say that tying a liferaft inflation cord to myself when flying does not seem to be very practical and would carry a higher risk of inadvertent inflation, with potentially rather serious consequences. What I currently do is tie it on with a quick release knot (highwayman's hitch) to a grab handle near the door, though I would genuinely like to know from those with real-world experience of dinghy deployment whether this is sensible. I don't want to wait for the real thing to find out.
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Old 10th Nov 2016, 13:11
  #37 (permalink)  
 
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Ultimately what you wear is obviously down rightly to the individual and ones attitude to risk but in any event I'd go back to Sir N D's comment that
A long time ago I tried ditching for real. Knowing it was coming was frightening, the impact worse than I could ever have expected and the aftemath dreadful.
If it all does go mightly pear shaped in an aircraft (over land or sea) it's quite possible that things will start top unravel very quickly, and no amount of training, even the top notch military stuff some of us have endured, can really prepare you for the psychological impact (?shock) of going perhaps almost instantly from a nice warm environment to a world where very much at the mercy of the elements. Being over the sea in those situations, perhaps looking down at the water having had an engine failure or worse you very rapidly become aware that the fact you perfectly handled the initial technical problem is now history, and that you've only just started to confront another whole set potentially lethal problems...

Regardless of whether you think you need the kit, need to wear it all the time etc, the more thinking through of sea survival you have done and the more practising of appropriate procedures you have done, the more chance you've got of surviving a ditching or similar.
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Old 10th Nov 2016, 15:59
  #38 (permalink)  
 
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From a similar thread:

http://www.pprune.org/private-flying...ml#post8217295
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Old 13th Nov 2016, 13:31
  #39 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
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Hiya all,

this You Tube video of a RT recording of an ejection by MIL pilots may be of interest.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7G1rvmwfIk


Best wishes & keep dry and warm :-)



coldair
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Old 13th Nov 2016, 17:31
  #40 (permalink)  
 
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I have over 1200 scuba dives and play underwater hockey (you hold your breath and push a lead puck on the bottom of a pool). I have been flying float planes off and on for over 30 years. A few years ago I got offered a free spot on a eggress course set up for light aircraft.

They have a mock up cockpit in which you sit strapped in. The instructors then submerge the device tumble it around and leave you upside down. You are told to get out when it stops moving and take the life jacket in the seat pocket with you.

Going in I thought how hard could this be ? I have thousands of hours under water most of it holding my breath.

Well the first time I never got out. The instructors finally had to right the device and bring it to the surface. After six tries I could get out no matter what they did to me.

The two take aways

1) Before taking the course if I had wound up upside down in a submerged cockpit I probably would have died

2) I now always wear a constant wear type life jacket anytime I am near water in a single engine airplane

Bottom line: If you are flying over water not within gliding distance of land or flying in a seaplane take an egress course.
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