A Real Life Egress Training Story From A Long Time Ago, Still Worth Reading
Previously published in various publications and now re-submitted as a Guest Editorial by Brian Webster, this story is deserving of any seaplane pilots attention and recall. A lot of the readers that have contacted me say that the columns they enjoyed best are the real life stories. The next question I am frequently asked is “Why should I take Egress Training”? A Egress student sent this to me and I thought it could cover both topics and if any of you readers have a “Real Life Egress Story” please email it to me.
Martin Hale from Whitefish Montana USA writes-
I started flying with a private license (SEL) in 1980, and then two years later received a float rating which was one of my life’s biggest thrills. Today I fly my Cessna 180 modified with a 0-520 and three bladed propeller on straight floats.
My flight time exceeds 5000 hours with the majority being on those floats that have taken me to places all over North America few people get to see, including Alaska for up to five times annually. Even with all that past experience I am a long way from knowing it all as flying has numerous challenges and no one person could live long enough to be caught in every scenario. That is what brought me to Bryan Webster’s Aviation Egress Systems pilot and passenger ditching school.
I had no idea what the program was all about, but was keen to learn whatever is offered which will improve my piloting or overall survival skills. The ground school was a real eye opener as everything that was discussed dealt with real life situations that have happened to aviators similar to me. One quickly realizes how important Egress training could be the first time you are rolled upside down and become totally disorientated and unable to find the door handles inside their ditching simulators.
I absolutely had no idea of the challenges that present themselves in getting out of a flipped over aircraft, or the speed at which they occur. The Aviation Egress Training System program makes the pilot think of things like different kinds of passengers that are transported in aircraft and whether on wheels or floats, and what could happen if one ends up inverted in a lake or river.
Example: What about passengers who are non-swimmers, large or elderly not to mention children who rely totally on us for advice and leadership especially under the stress of an accident. We were taught first hand how dangerous a boater’s style life-vest or jacket could be inside an aircraft under water in the simulators, and why inflatable PFD’S were invented for aircraft originally.
You will learn about the options available for life vests and why pilots and passengers should be wearing inflatable units, as even when ready in a warm swimming pool most of us left them behind in the rush to get out.
I have tried to talk many of my aviation buddies to take the time and attend this course with a variety of responses. One pilot said, “Oh I will just be careful and not take chances”. Others were concerned about performing poorly in front of their friends, or were uncomfortable in water. A person should put the concerns out of his/her mind and sign up soon, especially if they are apprehensive, as this is all the more reason to attend. Plan to use this opportunity to learn and practice these skills in a safe and controlled environment where if you do poorly, there are chances to repeat the procedure and get it right the next time.
A float-plane pilot is no more than a log in the water, rogue wave or sudden gust of wind away from a possible upset and one must be prepared for such an event. I have now taken this course twice, as I realized after my first session that my wife who flies with me on a regular basis should also be proficient in Egressing a ditching as I could be incapacitated during a real incident.
I strongly believe in the Egress training provided, and tell all other pilots you cannot appreciate the benefits until you complete the course. The one group of pilots who does understand why this is so important are our military folks who have long understood the dangers and repeated this training annually for years as it is mandatory for them. Just like practicing engine failures and stalls this should be included in any pilot’s emergency training program.
Bryan Webster is a 12.000 + hour pilot actively flying on the BC coast today. In 1977 he was a passenger involved in a water crash while the pilot attempted to avoid power lines draped over the Fraser River east of Vancouver. He owns and operates Dunkyou.com & Egresstraining.ca– Aviation Egress Training Systems, headquartered in Victoria, BC, Canada. For questions or to enroll in the Aviation Egress Ditch Training Program contact – “Bry the Dunker Guy” at 1-877-GO-DITCH or per email: [email protected]
Editorial Note: Seaplane, Marine & Helicopter Egress Training is available in most parts of the world and several professional operators conduct this training for airmen who fly close to or over water in both commercial and private airplanes. Besides proper passenger briefings prior to each flight, staying current in ones skill and ability to egress a sinking aircraft is a basic requirement for increasing chances for survival. Besides the proper use and tightening of seat belts prior to landing amphibious aircraft, each exit path must be clearly realized by passengers. While we will dive deeper into passenger safety briefings in future training related articles, we nevertheless encourage the training and will help pilots to find the right training location. Your comments are also welcome here!