The Mid Season Gear Check Reminder
Opinion Editorial written by Jason J. Baker — Small she is, that seaplane world of ours, very small! Dismally growing and bogged down by its own premises and demeanor, we aren’t exactly in a bull market these days. Planes, Floats, Flying Boats – all incredibly hard to sell in a world full of instant gratification Facebook addicts. Like clockwork, this one ugly Grim Reaper continues to show his ugly face, this year, like almost every year…
I am talking – of course – about “Gear Down Accidents On Water”. There used to be a time when I was anal about wire- strikes, there used to be a time when I was upset about weight and balance related accidents – and people have put up with my grumpy (rogue) tone when it came to egress training.
Does It Take A Full Hand To Count?
I’ll dare say that if you’ve been in this industry for more than a year, you’ll have seen or heard of at least one gear down accident that has left one or more of your seaplane flying comrades dead or shaken down severely and harshly. There are those who say that most gear down accidents end halfway harmlessly and I can’t change their statistical way of thinking. For me personally – each and every single one is one too many.
I began running Seaplaneforum.com in 2011 and in the last 9 years publishing on my own Mr. Grim Reaper has taken more than his fair share out of my surroundings. Friends, colleagues, acquaintances, extremely good friends and people I miss at least once a week. They, like myself have flown many brands of floats, big planes, small planes, fancy floats or working hog style bathtubs that wouldn’t win a beauty contest after using Photoshop extensively. My two hands are not enough to count these losses, which are often treated like, but should never be collateral damage.
Do We Need To Change Training And Certification?
In the July Edition of the SPAA Newsletter “On The Step” just three of the five or six accidental gear down water-landings we’ve had this season, are highlighted. The following two pages are dedicated to giving people information about egress training. Whenever I see a seaplane swimming upside down, I cringe and I can’t help but wonder if our training and certification procedures are still anywhere close to being up to snuff. I am sincerely beginning to doubt it and I am far from alone with that outlandish attitude. Something stinks to high heaven and I think we need to stop cutting cookies.
Total Time & Experience Completely Irrelevant
So far, I don’t see a correlation that would lead me to believe that more flight time or experience on type would have any measurable effect on who gets hit, nor can I fascinate myself by suggesting to install more bells and whistles to prevent the most expensive flight during their seaplane flying career. The hits are random, victims are pounded out of the blue and without the slightest chance to prepare for the extremely violent contact with the beloved H2O.
Try to imagine that you’re sitting behind the yoke or stick, dumb, fat and happy about the incredible beauty surrounding you, 68 knots on the airspeed indicator and the next thing you know is being beaten up like a rubber-doll between playing elephants. Maybe your child will drown, maybe your wife, husband, brother or best friend. You would not skip watching this video for the second or third time? I think it should be required watching prior to planting any rear end on the sheepskin. No exceptions!
I know that you’re busy and would like to go back to the funny entertainment and simplicity of Facebook, Instagram or any of the other, more worthy platforms which allow us all to be these popular, cool people. But please take the time and wrap your brain around the position of your landing gear, independent of if it is retractable or not!
Check That Landing Gear – Even If You Don’t Have One!
Straight float equipped aircraft? Training on a 65 horsepower Cub in sunny Florida? Purchased a brand spanking new SeaRey, Aventura, Borey, Icon, 206 or Caravan? The time will come when you find yourself in an aircraft that can do both – take off from land and water. Do you have an instructor or examiner who tells you that you don’t need to check for your gear position (at least 3-4 times prior to landing)? Buyer Beware! Fire that person/ flight-school instantly. Go find a school or an instructor that doesn’t let you get away with “good enough”.
Non Exclusive Gear Check Tips & Other Tricks (Free!)
- Pilots who have never forgotten their gear could still complete egress training.
- Pilots who completed egress training don’t necessarily never forget their gear.
- Pilots who forgot their gear but survived the flip usually experience humility beyond imagination.
- Pilots who hit the nightly news with their flipped seaplane contribute to our industries demise.
- Pilots who flip seaplanes actively contribute to higher insurance premiums and foster fear.
- Flipped Seaplanes = More Dead Bodies = More Regulations and Knee-jerk Reactions
- “When The Water Is Near – Verify That Gear!” + “I am landing on Water and the gear is UP!”
- A Checklist is not an Idiots Tool. Using it consequently does not mean you are a bad pilot!
- Brief your passengers, each and every time. Show & Explain Seatbelts and Exit pathways.
Do you have something to add or wish to provide additional input for our training and certification series? This is one of the rare articles where comments and feedback is open. Hit me by Email at [email protected] or send me a WhatsApp via +49 (0) 173 8124992. Don’t be shy, I bite too!
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