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  • Ditching

    I'm thinking of flying to Ireland next summer, possibly following a taster session to Abbeville first, and (naturally) I'm wondering about ditching.

    Has anyone got any experience of ditching a high-wing, high-engine 3-axis microlight please?

    My concern is that even if you slow down to a stall in a tail-down attitude, the plane will still be doing approx 30mph when the wheels touch the water. Will this not cause you immediately to flip onto your back? I'm not that keen about vacating a sinking plane upside down and possibly suffering from concusion...

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks

  • #2
    Ditching

    I've not had any experience of this but there is a microlight guy who is qualified to tell you. I don't know his name, but he's part of the Avon microlight club and I seem to remember that he does lectures/crash courses (sorry!) too. I'll try and look him up for you.

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    • #3
      Ditching

      You will find useful info on the mechanics of ditching on this site
      http://islandmicrolightclub.com/
      This is the site of the guys that fly from Malta, they are a great bunch and very professional. The two leading lights , Mark and Alex both fly for the Malta Defence Force so they know their stuff.
      Of course they have warm water believe me even in the warmest summer we do not. So it has to be imersion suit, life raft, ELT and flares.
      In my younger and even sillier days I worked as deckhand on a fishing boat and cold water shock is something you have to experiance to believe, it'll punch all the breath out of your body. Ordinary clothing will weigh you down and tire you to use all your energy very quickly.
      So, prepare well, fly as high as you can and if possible stick close to shipping lanes

      Ginge

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      • #4
        Ditching

        In my distant days I used to be a canoe instructor and a member of the corp of canoe lifeguards. The effect of extreme sudden cold immersion can lead to hydrocution. Cold water hitting the vagus nerve on the back of the throat can cause 'dry drowning'. I suggest you don't try it at home kids! But please, please take it seriously.

        Thought: If a ship was travelling at thirty knots, would you try to land on a container on its deck?

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        • #5
          Ditching

          Tom

          I use a Fladen suit for water crossings. Its not as good as a dry/immersion suit, but it will keep you alive for an hour in water that is 1-5degC. It also has a flouro top half and 3M reflective strips all over it. One of the big benefits is that it comes with a lot of bouyancy and a good hood that can be pulled on as needed. Its not designed to keep all of the water out, but to use the water that gets in like a wet suit does.

          I often use it for flying in the winter as it is warmer than my Ozee, but just as light and soft. It does not make you sweat at all and you where normal clothing under it. It can be zipped up in seconds, if worn in a 3 axis, unlike an immersion suit. You also do not have the risk of being inverted in the water due to trapped air in the suit, as would happen if you zipped up an immersion suit during flight.

          These were designed for Scandanavian sea fishermen and come in a hobby version (as I have) or a commercial version. The prices are approx 70 and 150, respectively from good on-line fishing tackle sites.

          Fladen's website

          Never had to use it yet, but it looks and feels very well designed and comes with good test certificates/kite marks. For the Irish Sea, I would recomend the 845 which meets the latest ISO 15027-1 for immersion suits and costs around 80.

          They have even been tested by RickGoddin in his swimming pool, in winter. Rick survived.

          Edit - Fladen test data and survival time graphs added

          Fladen technical data, graphs and suit catalogue 4mb pdf file

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          • #6
            Ditching

            What about the actual ditching technique?
            What's the best option?
            On flat calm it will be difficult to judge your height too.

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            • #7
              Ditching

              Tom, the guy who I was thinking of is David Lane from Freedom Sports Aviation based at Long Marston see http://www.freedomsports.co.uk/. I'm sure that he advertised courses in MF.

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              • #8
                Ditching

                I'm sure that I have seen advertised in one of the aviation mags a company that hires survival kit. A quick Google should be able to locate them. That way even if you are planning a one off you can equip yourself with good gear.
                Actual technique is well descibed on the Island Microlights site in an article by Charlie Galea

                Ginge

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                • #9
                  Ditching

                  Thanks for all the info guys. I was aware of the ability to hire survival kit - and certainly wouldn't venture across water without an immersion suit, life jacket, gps, locator beacon and a bag full of lucky rabbits' feet.

                  But if there's a poor chance of getting out of the aircraft then there's little point in having any of these things! Hence my question about the specifics of ditching a high-wing, high-engine microlight (eg. a Thruster, AX2000 or X'Air). Is it do-able without somersaulting onto your back? I've heard some pilots recommend abandoning the aircraft before it touches the water in order to avoid this problem. But then you'd still be travelling at 30mph when you hit the water. Is this feasable? Or at that speed is the water going to feel like concrete when you hit it...?

                  Any further thoughts much appreciated.

                  Tom

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                  • #10
                    Ditching

                    Tom

                    I would jump from a flexwing, but not a 3 axis.

                    Thinking about this, the thing that occured to me is that you would want to make the aircraft as light as possible, to get the stall speed down as low as possible. This would also reduce mass above the point of rotation... the wheels.

                    I then wondered why we don't have the ability to jetison fuel. If you were going in dead stick, to inhospitable terrain or to water, it would surely be a big advantage to do so without carrying 40 or 50 litres of Chateau Gordon Brown in the tank.

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                    • #11
                      Ditching

                      ...30 mph... it's about the same as jumping from a height of just over 10 metres...ouch! Better practice your high-dive technique!

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                      • #12
                        Ditching

                        I have heard of stowing air matresses in the wings of a Thruster before now but I have not yet spoken to anyone who has done it, but I would suggest the techique that was recomended for ditching Typhoons in WW11 (old I may be , but not that old. I read about it) as you have the advantage in a TST of a tailwheel undercarriage. The Typhoon problem was with the massive air scoop forward, the nose dug in and you could continue straight down. So you exagerate your three point landing and touch down as slowly as possible and such that the tailwheel makes contact first. That will slow you before the mainwheels touch. The theory then is that you come to rest with your nose submerged as far as the leading edge, this won't last long but maybe long enough to get out. I would not undo my safety harness untill halted, in a Thruster you have a first rate harness with a decent release, far better than the nancy strap and diagonal than some others fit and if you are in a TST you only have the rear wing bracing wire in your way as you leave.
                        All that is theory only but it may help

                        Ginge

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                        • #13
                          Ditching





                          openneth on ditching at this time as I haven't had the privilege of ditching (if it is deemed a privilege ) I have done the BA Cranebrook DITCHING course and if it was actually real ....this posting would now be being typed by a 'ghost' [/b]

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                          • #14
                            Ditching

                            As a newcomer to the forum, I must say that this is a great improvement on anything on ditching on the Yahoo group. Many thanks, chaps.
                            Now, two questions for you:
                            1) There is a wide price range covering radio beacons. The cheeapest (128) is a 121.5 only device while the powest price 406Mhz is 290. Anyone who says that no price is too great to ensure your safety is probably in the wrong sport... It's a judgement call for all of us.
                            2) Most (?) of us fly with some kind of GPS device in front of us. Our handheld is likely to be showing the bearing and distance of somewhere, with the present lat/long available if you press the right button. How happy would D&D be with hearing "Campbelltown bearing 330 distant 15 stature miles"? (Before you ask, most Skyrangers have ASIs reading in mph!)
                            Richard

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                            • #15
                              Ditching

                              F
                              [color=#008000>

                              mind you if I was spotted in the sea they would be sending a Whaling ship

                              :idea:

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