October 1999 Issue

The Myths of Ditching

Contrary to what you may have heard, the best emergency landing site may be the water

If you fly much over the water – even over wide bays and rivers – you’ve had to quell the uneasiness that arises when the engine goes into “auto rough” mode the instant you’re beyond gliding range of shore. Not to worry; it’s not just you.

The prospect of going into the water in an airplane terrifies most pilots, chiefly because few prepare for it and, in general, instructors don’t know enough about the relevant risks to make well-informed judgments about overwater flying.

As a result, certain myths and half-truths about ditching seem to persist, handed down from one pilot to the next who “read something” or “knows someone who knew someone” who vanished without a trace in Lake Michigan...

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