Ever ditched an aircraft at sea? The wisdom is that you should land tail low and land parallel to the major swell. It’s covered in AIM 6-3-3, But this doesn’t cover what happens after the ‘landing’. In preparation for crossing that mighty stretch of water the English channel (which nonetheless is really cold – and potentially deadly in 30 minutes). I put myself through a ditching training course. I felt really silly standing by the side of pool wearing a boiler suite (overalls designed to slow you down in the water), and then jumping into a pool fully clothed. Now if this had been the North Atlantic it would have been a very short lesson. In and then out. The pool was minimally heated but probably still warmer than the Caribbean. Swimming by itself is pretty hard with shoes and clothes on. Getting to the water in itself can be a struggle. Before ditching you should prepare your handholds and plan your exit. Left hand here, followed by push here followed by right hand here, and make sure your passengers get out too. AND DON’T FORGET THE LIFE RAFT. That’s why you stow it close by during the flight not with the baggage all the way at the back. Make’s sense doesn’t it. Oh and of course you made sure it was serviceable before you took off, otherwise it’s just time wasting junk. PLBs  Personal Locator Beacons are a must. Otherwise you could be drifting who knows where for days. Once out in clear water, say good buy to the aircraft and make sure you’re not tangled in it and get well clear. Time to deploy the raft. It’s just a matter of pulling a rip cord, but how do you pull a ripcord when you have nothing to pull against. It’s not easy. You have to put your feet against the life raft and pull with all of your might and it’s much harder than you can possibly imagine, especially if your muscles are getting cold and you’re beginning to shiver. Then you have to get into the life raft. Captain first of course. That way you can organize your passengers to get in safely. Getting in is not easy either, unless you’re a dolphin. The technique for getting passengers in may seem cruel but it’s effective. Get them close to the raft, facing you, take hold under both arms push them down and the haul them in. The buoyancy effect should help you get them in. Survival techniques after you’re all in the raft is a whole other post, suffice to say keep dry and warm and wait for rescue. I highly recommend you do this training. You may never use it but if you did you’d want to be at least minimally prepared.
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