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Shark bait

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Well-known member
Nov 25, 2001
All you guys that fly single-engine turbine aircraft over water-how do you feel about that. We always laugh and say to each other "shark bait" when we are 125 miles off the coast and we have a single engine PT-12 or whatever below us. It may be turbine but I have had tons of flameouts and have had the guts of them puke out more that once. For that matter how do all you mountainair guys feel about flying SE in the mountains down to LIFR on your freight runs?
We stay close.

In the T-34C, most of us stay pretty close to the shore; close enough to dead engine glide to the beach. I've never been more than 15 or 20 miles off shore in the turbo weenie, but that was at an altitude of 10k or so and on the way into Key West, so I would have just swam the rest of the way to Duval Street.

We get a lot of vectors for approach that are over the water here at Pensacola, and we just try to keep our speed up to give us a little more time if something happens to the PT-6. A couple of the Air Force types refuse vectors over the water at night (heh heh) but that's the exception. We Navy types will just keep making fun of them until one of us has to ditch, then we'll realize they were right all along.
Personally, it doesn't bother me much. I've never been big on water (never cared for heights, either), but if the choice is a forced landing in the water, or in the rocks in a canyon, or anywhere...most of the time it matters very little. What you do after the forced landing matters, but having the equipment to deal with the event after the fact makes the biggest difference. Having raft, suit, water, mirror, and the works, makes a difference.

If the airplane goes down at night over the hills, or it goes down in the day over the waves, it doesn't matter a whole lot. Down is down, broken up is broken up. Letting people know where you are, always planning for that eventuality in a real-time awareness that it could happen, and being prepared for the event when it does, is what counts.
AVBUG & Ditching

You know, in order to make use of your survival skills and equipment you must first survive impact.

Just how much experience/training do you have in emergency egress out of a sinking aircraft? From your post it would seem you are quite comfortable with a ditching scenario.

Would you elaborate where you gained this composure?

Being aware of the background and experience of someone with such strong opinions would help me with my decision as to whether to lend any veracity to them or to simply dismiss what has been opined.

Right now I'm leaning towards the latter.

BTW I'm a retired Marine Corps aviator with over a year of living on and flying off of BGBs.
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When I first got on the DC-10 I spent a day doing emergency drills, the slide, and discussing ditching. Somewhere towards the end they mentioned that there has never been a succesful wide-body ditching. Something to think about in the tracks south of Greenland some cold winter night....
You know what the difference is between flying the North Atlantic in the summer vs. the winter. During the summer if you ditch you will live 5 minutes, during the winter you will live 1 minute. As for landing I'll dead-stick the 738 down the glacier on the Greenland mainland before I even think of putting it in the water. Neither is a great prospect but since I fly the route at least twice a month I have to think about something.;)
Great Whites

I used to instruct/fly in the San Francisco Bay Area. Off the bay area coast, about 40-50 miles is a small island chain(Farrollon islands) that is a refuge haven to seals. Consider, that part of the Pacific Ocean is cooler and is a PRIME feeding ground for Great White Sharks. Every year thousands of seals will flock to this island and great whites will just hang around the shores enjoying a tasty feast.

At our flight school we always dared one another to fly a twin to the islands and back to check for sharks. I would've hate to have ditched an aircraft ANYwhere near this area.

Btw, there are a few boat companies that offer services to swim with these Great Whites in cages. Seriously.... they'll ship ya out there, drop a big ol steel cage in the water, bloody up the water, and you hop in the cage and watch these massive sharks swim around you. :)
I also used to instruct in the SFO/Bay area. We used to call the approach in MRY the shark bait arrival since ATC would take you down to about 2500 feet or so and SEVERAL miles off shore. Geez, the things I used to do to fill my logbook.:eek:
You should see flight training in Hawaii. Cross country flights... well, unless you are on the Big Island where you can go from Kona to Hilo, you have to go off-shore. Everywhere else, you go off-island. Primary students in Hawaii fly their first cross country from Honolulu to Lana'i, all over water. Or say from Honolulu to Lihue on Kauai. Now the waters off-shore here are WAY WAY choppier than anything I've seen in California, Florida and the Carolinas. Granted, the water here is also 78-80 degrees year round, but currents and rough seas would definitely be no fun.

Gotta give it to the people who fly little beater Cessnas and Pipers around here.

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