Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > Non-Airline Forums > Private Flying
Reload this Page >

Flying a small plane over water, from Northern Ireland to Scotland?

Private Flying LAA/BMAA/BGA/BPA The sheer pleasure of flight.

Flying a small plane over water, from Northern Ireland to Scotland?

Old 3rd Oct 2019, 03:06
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Northern Ireland
Posts: 679
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Flying a small plane over water, from Northern Ireland to Scotland?

Has anyone done this? My father has a small one engine plane (two seats) that he has had about a year.

We have flown a lot in it but only 30 miles or so within Northern Ireland. We were discussing flying to Kintyre or Ayrshire as a trial run.

Whilst this is a short distance, given the plane size I would be wary.

Our plane cruises at around 150-200mph. We talked about going to 10,000 feet.

Has anyone done a similar crossing? What kind of weather conditions would you need?

We would want to get across as fast as possible so it would be the shortest distance from NI to Scotland. We would not want to spend more than 5 minutes over water.

Is this a risky idea?
owenc is offline  
Old 3rd Oct 2019, 03:49
  #2 (permalink)  
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Ontario, Canada
Age: 61
Posts: 5,317
Received 4 Likes on 4 Posts
Risk is relative, just be aware, and prepared for the risks. I've done many extended over water single engined flights, never a problem. If the water is lass than "very warm", wear a dry immersion suit. If the water is "very warm" (which I doubt), wear a life jacket. Failure to wear the appropriate emergency apparel could be fatal. If you're unable/unwilling to wear it, don't fly it. If you can, take a raft. Pratice in the water in both the suits and with the raft if at all possible, they are not as easy to use well as you think. If you're flying with a partner, put the raft in a swimming pool, and practice getting in, it requires skill and coordination with your partner. Make sure you're visible, and have a suitable beacon. Carry everything you want out of the plane, on your person. If need be, in a water proof bag. If it's not on your person going out the door, you're likely not to have it at all. Even plan to get a raft out, perhaps from the passenger's lap. If the plane flips when it hits, you won't have time to search the cabin for things, you'll get yourself out with what you're carrying.

Flying higher is better, get as high as you're able, weather and ATC considered. Try to be in communication with someone, either ATC, or a relay aircraft all the way along. Know where you are (GPS lat/long), so if you so have a problem, you can tell someone where you are. File an accurate flight plan, then fly the route you planned - don't deviate, a search won't find you if they're looking in the wrong place. If the weather turns bad, tell someone, and turn around. Don't fly over water at night. Let alone being very hard to find if your ditch, overwater at night may as well be instrument flying (see JFK Jr.)

Get to know the water, and consider it as you're flying over. Identify waves and swells, they're different. If you must ditch, ditch along the swells, as into the wind as possible, but along a swell as the priority. Don't let the waves distract you, it's the swells which hurt if you hit them wrong.

There is lots written about ditching, so searches will turn up lots of useful information. There are also underwater egress courses, which are excellent training, and just plain fun!

As to risk, it's yours to consider. Different pilots have different risk thresholds, and that's perfectly okay. Just understand it, and be prepared if you decide to go. When I was crashed into the water by my fellow pilot two years ago, a lifetime of swimming, 25 years as a water and ice water rescuer and trainer, having been wearing my life jacket already, and warm water all contributed to it not being fatal. My friend, an 20 year water pilot flipped his floatplane 5 weeks ago, and drowned. Though an experienced pilot, he was unprepared for water entry. His wife and kids aboard survived. I like to think that if he had to drown, he did it helping them out first - I don't know. But, they weren't wearing life jackets...

Understand all that you can, and how you feel that you may be prepared, and then make your decision. It it's to go, prepare, and be willing to turn around if things go bad, there's no shame in sticking to a plan which includes "turn around if you feel you should"!
Pilot DAR is offline  
Old 3rd Oct 2019, 04:06
  #3 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Enzed
Posts: 2,285
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by owenc View Post
Has anyone done this? My father has a small one engine plane (two seats) that he has had about a year.

We have flown a lot in it but only 30 miles or so within Northern Ireland. We were discussing flying to Kintyre or Ayrshire as a trial run.

Whilst this is a short distance, given the plane size I would be wary. Why?

Our plane cruises at around 150-200mph. We talked about going to 10,000 feet. You may need to think about getting a clearance into controlled airspace. Why so high? At 3500 feet at the mid way point you should be able to glide to either coast. Remember most peoples biggest fear, an engine failure is a very rare occurrence, most accidents are caused through other events usually pilot induced.

Has anyone done a similar crossing? Many, many times and over much greater distances. What kind of weather conditions would you need? Depends on what the pilot was comfortable with, personally I'd be more than happy with a 2000' cloud base and anything more than 10 km visibility

We would want to get across as fast as possible so it would be the shortest distance from NI to Scotland. We would not want to spend more than 5 minutes over water. The shortest distance looks to be 13 nm which at 150 MPH (130 knots) is 5 minutes

Is this a risky idea? NO.
See my Responses in RED.
27/09 is offline  
Old 3rd Oct 2019, 07:51
  #4 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: 57 North
Posts: 78
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Long ago I read somewhere that an engine failure very often occurred when changes were made to power settings, fuel tank changes etc. That was before I made my first water crossing, Mull of Kintyre to N.I. as it happens, and I have always attended to whatever needed to be fiddled with before coasting out with the intention of changing nothing until I was 'feet dry'. Don't know if it made any difference but it seemed sensible to me and I've never had to ditch.
Chuck Glider is offline  
Old 3rd Oct 2019, 14:12
  #5 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Bressuire
Posts: 690
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
In a small light aircraft the amount and type of survival equipment you can carry is limited. Each person should have as a minimum a life jacket preferably the constant wear type. If the aircraft is fitted with an ELT great, if not have a PLB with you and ensure it is available to be activated.

In terms of operating the aeroplane why should it be operated differently as some have suggested. The aircraft does not know it is flying over water, mountains or any other type of surface so will operate normally. Human error is the greatest cause of failures, in any scenario, and therefore changing to a non standard operation/routine should not be part of the flight. Where mechanical failure has been shown to be the cause then, in most cases, data shows that the fault was already known before the flight but ignored. Prior to departure ensure that there are no ongoing issues that should be resolved by an engineer. Preflight checks should be done diligently and completed fully before take-off.

All the above should of course be the case before any flight. Poor maintenance and unpractised sloppy checks, including those undertaken during flight, create their own outcomes.
Fl1ingfrog is offline  
Old 3rd Oct 2019, 19:51
  #6 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Ansiao
Posts: 2,704
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The aircraft does not know it is flying over water, mountains or any other type of surface
Agreed! The plane may indeed quit any time, any place. One should have a plan B always, everywhere. But in some places, the choices for a plan B are limited, and what options there are require more skill.

Human error is the greatest cause of failures, in any scenario,
Agreed again! But some places are more forgiving of human error than others.

Jan Olieslagers is online now  
Old 3rd Oct 2019, 20:06
  #7 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: Uka Duka
Posts: 941
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by owenc View Post
Has anyone done this? My father has a small one engine plane (two seats) that he has had about a year.

We have flown a lot in it but only 30 miles or so within Northern Ireland. We were discussing flying to Kintyre or Ayrshire as a trial run.

Whilst this is a short distance, given the plane size I would be wary.

Our plane cruises at around 150-200mph. We talked about going to 10,000 feet.

Has anyone done a similar crossing? What kind of weather conditions would you need?

We would want to get across as fast as possible so it would be the shortest distance from NI to Scotland. We would not want to spend more than 5 minutes over water.

Is this a risky idea?

You're asking the Internet?

From this backwater of it I say: Don't do it!

Start with your V speeds and go from there.
Auxtank is offline  
Old 3rd Oct 2019, 20:11
  #8 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Moray,Scotland,U.K.
Posts: 1,713
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
150-200 mph (kts?) cruise is faster than anything I've flown. Only 30 mile trips from base in such an aircraft is surprising.
I've flown over Scottish sea quite often. Over the mainland, I'd often consider ditching in a loch, colder than sea water, if I had an engine failure. I always wear a lifejacket.
You'll have good radar and radio cover.
At 10,000' you're likely to be above cloud, and with icing on descent through it.
Maoraigh1 is offline  
Old 3rd Oct 2019, 22:00
  #9 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Northern Ireland
Posts: 679
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Maoraigh1 View Post
150-200 mph (kts?) cruise is faster than anything I've flown. Only 30 mile trips from base in such an aircraft is surprising.
I've flown over Scottish sea quite often. Over the mainland, I'd often consider ditching in a loch, colder than sea water, if I had an engine failure. I always wear a lifejacket.
You'll have good radar and radio cover.
At 10,000' you're likely to be above cloud, and with icing on descent through it.
Well hes building up experience. We would want to go high up so that we can come down over land if the engine goes bang.
owenc is offline  
Old 3rd Oct 2019, 22:26
  #10 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: France
Posts: 1,012
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Just out of interest, what is the aircraft type? Only asking from curiosity.
Piper.Classique is offline  
Old 3rd Oct 2019, 22:41
  #11 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Scotland
Posts: 349
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by owenc View Post
Has anyone done this? My father has a small one engine plane (two seats) that he has had about a year.

We have flown a lot in it but only 30 miles or so within Northern Ireland. We were discussing flying to Kintyre or Ayrshire as a trial run.

Whilst this is a short distance, given the plane size I would be wary.

Our plane cruises at around 150-200mph. We talked about going to 10,000 feet.

Has anyone done a similar crossing? What kind of weather conditions would you need?

We would want to get across as fast as possible so it would be the shortest distance from NI to Scotland. We would not want to spend more than 5 minutes over water.

Is this a risky idea?
This sounds like a wind-up but if serious, I apologise and would make the following comments:

I have made this journey several times in two seat aircraft that cruise at 75 - 95 knots but still do not take it lightly.

I always wear a survival (dry) suit and a life jacket and fly as high as the weather allows. This is usually less than 5000 ft which is around the lower limit of most of the CTA anyway on my favourite route from just NW of Portpatrick to Copeland Island (19nm). I know it is shorter from Mull of Kintyre to Torr head and you can fly higher but to get there from Ayrshire you have to cross more stretches of water (and some mountainous terrain) unless you go a very long way round. And there are more boats on the more southerly route!

I always speak to Scottish info and then switch to Belfast City before halfway across. Unfortunately, they sometimes force your down lower before you reach the Irish coast.

I like good visibility, preferably seeing the other side before I coast out, because I am flying VFR. Hazy days, even with high cloud are a no go.

I have not found filing a flight plan particularly useful (unless going direct to the Republic of course) but do not forget about giving enough notice to Special Branch via a GAR.

Above all, speak to people who have done it before for example from Newtownards or Eglinton and take their advice!

PS I always carry a PLB on my person and have a hand-held radio. I know the engine does not know it is over water but if it quits, even if you make a perfect ditching, the water is so cold at all times of the year that you will not last long if you are not picked up quickly. Better safe than sorry!

Last edited by Forfoxake; 4th Oct 2019 at 22:09.
Forfoxake is offline  
Old 3rd Oct 2019, 23:40
  #12 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: east ESSEX
Posts: 4,240
Received 3 Likes on 2 Posts
27/09------6 MINUTES
sycamore is offline  
Old 4th Oct 2019, 08:38
  #13 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2019
Location: Farnborough Hants
Posts: 141
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Piper.Classique View Post
Just out of interest, what is the aircraft type? Only asking from curiosity.
Ho hum.....
just out of interest, what are your approximate ages?
20 and 50?
50 and 80?

This could make a difference to thinking and reaction times if things go awry.

There is some good advice (dare I say it, excellent advice) above already including having a plan that includes turning back if one or both of you starts to get concerned about carrying on.

In simple terms if the plane is well maintained, checked thoroughly before the flight, the weather is good, then there is no additional risk over the 30 mile flights that you have already made.

One other thing I would add is when in flight, don't get distracted by "idle chit chat", both of you should be paying attention at all times to what is going on in, and around, the plane.
Good luck and safe flying !
Paul Lupp is offline  
Old 4th Oct 2019, 10:15
  #14 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: 5Y
Posts: 578
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by owenc View Post
Has anyone done this? My father has a small one engine plane (two seats) that he has had about a year.

We have flown a lot in it but only 30 miles or so within Northern Ireland. We were discussing flying to Kintyre or Ayrshire as a trial run.

Whilst this is a short distance, given the plane size I would be wary.

Our plane cruises at around 150-200mph. We talked about going to 10,000 feet.

Has anyone done a similar crossing? What kind of weather conditions would you need?

We would want to get across as fast as possible so it would be the shortest distance from NI to Scotland. We would not want to spend more than 5 minutes over water.

Is this a risky idea?
Oi Owen,

Are you saying you don't trust me to come-up with a decent plan for this ?

Why not hear my plans, then ask your mates on PPRuNe if they think I know my arse from my elbow.

Dad
double_barrel is offline  
Old 4th Oct 2019, 10:40
  #15 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: UK
Posts: 8
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
There are quite a few microlight flexwings and 3 axis which fly from Folkestone to cap Gris Nez ( 22 miles) which is the shortest distance over water to France. Most travel speed is 65-120 mph. Most will travel over the water at 80mph with life jackets etc. Grant it the channel is busy and we probably fly at 4500’ possible glide back to land. North Sea less busy.
in June 2019 a group on the fly-UK did the 28 mile hop from Scotland to Northern Ireland I cannot remember the exact route taken. Again these were in microlights.all had immersion suits just on I believe.
wacits is offline  
Old 4th Oct 2019, 12:49
  #16 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Cambridge, England, EU
Posts: 3,443
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Fl1ingfrog View Post
The aircraft does not know it is flying over water, mountains or any other type of surface so will operate normally.
It does know when it's in cloud though! - all the suction pump failures and pressure instrument failures I've had have been in IMC.
Gertrude the Wombat is offline  
Old 4th Oct 2019, 16:50
  #17 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Barbados
Posts: 403
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I regularly fly from Dominica to Barbados - 177 miles over open water in my Archer II - couple of times a month; VFR here is max.8,500 in Barbados airspace - generally, I fly west at 6,500 and east at 5,500.

One thing is that the water is warm - have life jackets worn by all, a four man raft and a GPS portable locator beacon.

Would think that the biggest issue if one had to ditch on your passage would be cold, so maybe a couple of immersion suits would be a good idea as one would maybe have to be in the water for hours.

Need to make sure that the airplane is well maintained and FULL of fuel - if the weather descends you would want the time to fly out of it.

Of course never do the over water thing immediately after maintenance, fly a couple of hours over land to make sure no problems remain.
Ebbie 2003 is offline  
Old 4th Oct 2019, 16:55
  #18 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: France
Posts: 1,012
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Ah, but is that because that's when you are watching? You know what they say about a watched pot, Gertrude.... Of course there is also the malevolence of inanimate objects, too, or possibly Gremlins. As long as the lift fairies keep working it'll be alright. One day I must count how many crossings I've done from Cherbourg via Isle of Wight in the cub, fine pitch prop and all. Forget about a dingy, lifejackets is all you can squeeze in.
Piper.Classique is offline  
Old 4th Oct 2019, 17:51
  #19 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Cambridge, England, EU
Posts: 3,443
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Piper.Classique View Post
Ah, but is that because that's when you are watching? You know what they say about a watched pot, Gertrude....
Possibly - in VMC I might miss a VAC warning light coming on if the other pump was still working. But the other occasion involved the altimeter needle jumping around, and I'd have noticed that in VMC.
Gertrude the Wombat is offline  
Old 4th Oct 2019, 19:16
  #20 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: France
Posts: 1,012
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I suspect deliberate perversity on the part of the aircraft, then. You are probably right, it knows it is in cloud, doesn't like it, and wants you to take it back into the sunshine.
Piper.Classique is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

Copyright © 2022 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.