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Flying over water w/o survival gear

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I LOVE being on top!!
Dec 2, 2005
On Monday night my CFI and I flew to Farmingdale. I was under the hood and was given a 220 hdg to intercept the NDB rwy 1 final approach outbound and then reported PT inbound. We were about 8NM offshore and descended to 1100ft as published once established inbound. I told my CFI that I wanted stay at 2000 because we were over water at night with not even a lifejacket with us. He talked me into descending lower as per the app plate since the engine was running perfectly normally from the start. For about 5 minutes we were clearly beyond gliding distance from shore, if the engine had suddenly quit we certainly would have been killed from hypothermia, 10 min later! Going into FRG I knew being offshore might be a possibility but in a moment of weakness I accepted the huge, albiet slight risk for 5 min of the flight. In hindsight I used very bad judgement IMHO since there was a CERTAINTY of us being killed if we had to ditch for any reason. I take full responsibility for my judgement lapse and blame no one else including ATC and my CFI. I didn't want to do the visual app but rather fly an NDB which led me into this. I should have been assertive w/ATC and since my CFI had more faith in the engine than i did. I just went with the flow and had the "only this one time" attitude. FYI the C-172 that i flew that night has regular maintnance including 50 hr oil changes, oil analysis every oil change, compressions in the mid 70's for all 4 cyls, 1qt every 8 hrs or so and 100 hr inspections since its a rental. Also, how likely is it really for a healthy engine like this with so sign of trouble to just suddenly with no warning give up? Gotta think its slim, but again the consequences of a failure here were more dire than over the Rockies at night in solid IMC!!! I am new to this site so please no flame bait!

How many of you see this being as risky as I do? How many of you would have skimpped and done this as I did? Just how much risk is too much? Again I do take full responsibility for this and have learned not to do it again.
No flame bait, dude...but really - it's okay...deep breaths. 1st, I would think you'd have more a chance of getting in a mid-air than your engine all of a sudden without any prior notice, give out on 'ya. 2nd, you didn't break any rule here, since you were being vectored by ATC for the approach to the altitude depicted on the IAP, so the gliding distance thing is gone. 3rd, if this was a real life IMC approach and you only had an NDB approach, you gotta get down on your altitudes or you'll never (I guess I shouldn't say that, but...) get to MDA & your chance at seeing the runway. NDB's are tough enough without being behind on them. Anyway, whether anyone sees this as risky is a moot point. Set your own personal minimums and not those by anyone else. Period. And from someone who's had a lot of time flying at night in IMC over the Rockies...if it goes bad it doesn't matter where you are - but you gotta fly it still. Just know your airplane before you really take it up for the real thing. Look at the log books yourself if you have to.
The airplane doesn't know it's over water.

In my humble opinion, flying a single engine airplane in low IFR is a much greater risk, and that is what you are training to do. Think about it, if you choose to fly over water for a few minutes you are at risk for that short period of time. If you choose to fly in low IFR you are at risk for pretty much the entire flight.

On another note, catostophic engine failures are a fairly rare event. Most engine malfunctions will give you at least a short period of partial power to get to your chosen landing spot.
DrewBlows said:
Think about it, if you choose to fly over water for a few minutes you are at risk for that short period of time. If you choose to fly in low IFR you are at risk for pretty much the entire flight.

While it certainly is true that you are at risk for longer in LIFR the stakes are not as high. If you lose it far offshore over cold wateryou WILL CERTAINLY be killed in 10 min from hypothermia without sophisticated survival equipment and a raft. OTOH when its 500 OVC and it quits you will most likely survive intact if you maintain minimum sink (slower than best glide) and know what the surface winds are. By doing both this you minimize forward groundspeed and sink rate. Also by flying 5-10kts above stall you can use that cushion of airspeed to arrest the sink rate in the few seconds before you hit
something. If you pull back too much of course too soon and stall at 100 AGL than the outcome of that will be grim! I have flown 172's in LIFR and feel fine since I fly planes that I KNOW are well maintained and over relatively flat terrain as well.

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