Single Engine Water Crossings

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Autodidact

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Supposing you were able to carry a good selection of survival items, would you even be able to make use of them if you went into, for example, the North Sea?
 

Kingfisher

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Same here.

Dan
I have crossed Lake Michigan four times in my Citabria while I was assigned to work in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. My house was in Waterford, Michigan at the time. I requested flight following from Chicago and wore a life jacket. I flew as high as I ever had, 10000ft, and could see the other shore from that altitude. I used a handheld GPS, whose battery died once while I was half way across. I had no VOR and no attitude indicator, only magnetic compass. On the third (westbound) crossing it was so hazy I could not see the horizon, and it was difficult to keep the wings level. I did not abort, because when I looked at the waves below, I could use them as reference.
In hindsight, I would only do it again in a seaplane.
 

cluttonfred

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Supposing you were able to carry a good selection of survival items, would you even be able to make use of them if you went into, for example, the North Sea?
Unless you are talking about parachuting from the plane, then even using the survival gear depends on a successful ditching, which depends on the plane and sea conditions. With fixed gear, a very abrupt stop is guaranteed and flipping over is likely. It's certainly possible and I would carry the gear if I needed to fly over water, but it's better something to avoid. If I really wanted to circumnavigate the globe, I'd rather do it in something like a Volmer VJ-22 Sportsman, not only for water landings but because the flying boat hull will help protect you in an off-airport landing on land as well. And it would be a hoot!

24203d1368474444-bush-plane-landing-gear-vj-22.jpg
 

bmcj

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I have not done any really long over water flights in a single engine plane (unless you count flying down the river at 5' high). I think the most nerve wracking over water flight I have done is the final approach to one particular airport where you cross over a rather large sewage treatment farm on short final. :gig:
 
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AdrianS

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I have not done any really long over water flights in a single engine plane (unless you count flying down the river at 5' high). I think the most nerve wracking over water flights that I have done is the final approach to one particular airport where you cross over a rather large sewage treatment farm on short final. :gig:
Those magnificent men?
 

wsimpso1

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Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic in a single, he also did a lot of single engine "needle-ball-airspeed" IFR while flying the mail, and had abandoned mailplanes from a spin when no letdowns worked. Other folks have circumnavigated the globe in singles including the guys I have met from South Africa.

That being said, I do not clank when I walk, and feel distinctly nervous when over open water. I am instrument licensed and current, flying an instrument equipped airplane, and have had to use those instrument capabilities on daylight crossings in VFR. Yes, visual references will disappear over water. I do cross Lake Michigan between Ludington and Manitowoc on my trips to OSH and Minnesota. I only do that up high, during the summer, giving me about 8 minutes of the trip where a sudden engine stoppage would put me in the pond. Same deal on crossing the Chesapeake. We are looking for boats the whole way across too. Cold months equals go around anything I will have to do more than wade out of.

Billski
 

SVSUSteve

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I have crossed Lake Michigan four times in my Citabria while I was assigned to work in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. My house was in Waterford, Michigan at the time. I requested flight following from Chicago and wore a life jacket. I flew as high as I ever had, 10000ft, and could see the other shore from that altitude. I used a handheld GPS, whose battery died once while I was half way across. I had no VOR and no attitude indicator, only magnetic compass. On the third (westbound) crossing it was so hazy I could not see the horizon, and it was difficult to keep the wings level. I did not abort, because when I looked at the waves below, I could use them as reference.
In hindsight, I would only do it again in a seaplane.
I've been across Lake Michigan several times in a Piper Comanche and twice in a Cessna. If you're properly equipped (more than just a handheld GPS and carrying survival gear), it shouldn't be a problem. I would rather fly across open water than fly low altitude VFR. Bird strikes and VFR pilots not paying attention (plus the flaws in the "see and avoid" theory) are a much bigger risk than losing an engine crossing a lake at least with a certified engine.

One of my dreams is to fly around the Caribbean. The North Sea might give me more pause and I probably wouldn't do it unless I was wearing an immersion suit in case I ended up in the water.

By the way, I used to live in Waterford.

BMCJ said:
I have done is the final approach to one particular airport where you cross over a rather large sewage treatment farm on short final.
Talk about a ****ty approach. Then again, one historic case I looked into was a Cessna 140 crash into a sewage treatment pond out in California. At least he didn't drown....
 

oriol

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bundesarchiv_bild_102-12156_wasserflugzeug_mit_segeln.jpg


I stumbled with this interesting picture on the net. I don´t know wich aircraft is all I remember is that the sails were to be deployed in case of an engine failure over the sea.

It was certainly a clever idea, I remember reading a book of an aviator pioneer (Ramón franco) who remained drifting without supplies in the Atlantic with his crew for a desperating long time before being spoted and rescued by chance.


Oriol
 

cluttonfred

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Neat, maybe an early Dornier? For a modern light amphibian (or straight flying boat) heading around the world, some sort of stable, soft-packed kite that could be deployed to "sail" home in an emergency would make a lot of sense.
 

Tiger Tim

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I believe the sailplane (no, not that kind) is a Beardmore. Barely flew, if memory serves, so the sails were a good plan.

As for single engine water crossings, I don't ever seem to have the room on board for enough gear to ditch with so it's always been high enough to glide to the nearest shore. Plus, I don't want to lose an airplane in a ditching.

-Tim
 

Dana

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I have not done any really long over water flights in a single engine plane (unless you count flying down the river at 5' high). I think the most nerve wracking over water flights that I have done is the final approach to one particular airport where you cross over a rather large sewage treatment farm on short final. :gig:
Reminds me of a [true] story I heard about a pilot who had an engine out. He picked what looked like a beautifully smooth grassy field for his forced landing... only to discover it was the green algae scum on top of a sewage treatment pond. He got out of the plane and started yelling, "HELP! FIRE! FIRE!" When asked why he yelled "fire" when there was no fire, he said, "How many people would have run to help if I yelled "SEWAGE?"

Dana
 

BJC

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There are lots of variables, including water temperature, radio communications available, rescue options, airplane configuration, availability of and access to survival equipment, experience in departing a submerged vehicle, stall speed, etc. That said, there are areas over land that are just as hazardous. I will not fly over the Okefanokee Swamp in South Georgia unless I can glide to solid land around it. There is very little chance of surviving a forced landing there, and if you do, you will still face significant survival challenges. Ditto for some mountainous areas.

I generally avoid terrain that that leads to "auto rough" engine operation.

YMMV


BJC
 
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