EAAAirVenture OshkoshShopJoin

Flying Over Water(2)

Posted By:
Paul Anderson
Young Eagles Pilot or Volunteer
5
Posts
3
#1 Posted: 3/25/2010 15:28:04

I was taught never to fly over water beyond gliding distance in a single engine airplane.  It seems to me that this is no more hazardous than crossing forested or mountainous terrain.  Thoughts?



Michael Johnson
Homebuilder or Craftsman
90
Posts
30
#2 Posted: 3/25/2010 15:44:27

Come on! Where is your sense of adventure? LOL

Water scares me!

MJ

 



Jim Baumann
Vintage Aircraft Association MemberWarbirds of America Member
62
Posts
40
#3 Posted: 3/25/2010 15:57:25

I "Pucker" up just flying over lake Winnebago!



"I Fly because it releases my mind from they tyranny of petty things" ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Dave Stadt
Vintage Aircraft Association MemberYoung Eagles Pilot or VolunteerAirVenture Volunteer
39
Posts
21
#4 Posted: 3/25/2010 19:50:23

You can walk out of the forest and you can walk out of the mountains.  Not too many of us can walk out of the water. 



Adam Baker
Homebuilder or Craftsman
32
Posts
8
#5 Posted: 3/25/2010 22:04:10

Good one Dave!

I live on the lakeshore in West Michigan and have many friends that live in Wisconsin. Lake Michigan is rather large and extremely annoying to fly around, so I usually fly over depending on the circumstances. Its important to understand the risks of flying over large bodies of water, and it is also important to be as educated as possible when doing so.

As a ramp rat at KMKG and a fellow pilot, I talk to numerous pilots that fly across the lake rather than around it. (Muskegon is a GREAT fuel stop before Oshkosh!) My advice that I give people flying to Oshkosh from Muskegon is to fly the lakeshore northbound until you reach Ludington. By then, you should be at a safe altitude for crossing the lake, and you will also be flying one of the narrowest stretches of Lake Michigan (around 60 miles across). Life jackets are a must, and more than one engine is preferred. Many people forget about Lake Watch, which is a service provided by flight service where you are required to check in every 10 minutes. I always use it when crossing.

I've talked with another pilot that has been living in the area his entire life and he has counted at least 60 aircraft that have been lost in the lake in his lifetime. Every time you fly outside the gliding distance of your aircraft you are taking a risk. If you're uncomfortable with the situation, just fly around the water than across. Just my .02.



Michael Johnson
Homebuilder or Craftsman
90
Posts
30
#6 Posted: 3/25/2010 22:42:04

Look at the bright side, if you want to fly around anything that just means you get more air time! What's not to like about that?

MJ



Adam Baker
Homebuilder or Craftsman
32
Posts
8
#7 Posted: 3/25/2010 22:57:08

The cost! (Especially if you're renting!) But you do have an excellent point! Would you fly your Stits across the lake?



Paul Anderson
Young Eagles Pilot or Volunteer
5
Posts
3
#8 Posted: 3/28/2010 09:19:02

 

Thanks for sharing the wisdom.  It’s nice (and safe) to have some good advice to follow.

 



Dorothy Klapp
27
Posts
20
#9 Posted: 3/28/2010 12:00:29

1. Water has NO safe places to land the airplane. Mountainous terrain can contain clear patches and short landing strips; forested terrain often has meadows, and at the least has moose trails or similar game trails that you can slot the fuselage down and lose energy by taking off the wings. You will always lose your aircraft, no second chance, over water. Water, when hit at speed, is extremely hard (have you ever belly-flopped in a pool? Think of that, only at 80 mph.) There are no trees or vegetation to absorb impact, slow your landing, and if you're in fixed-gear, those gear digging in will flip you instead of slowing and cushioning the landing. Even if you land very gently in a retract, there's no cushioning like with the landing gear on dirt - stalling from 4 feet up will slam all that force straight up into a back-breaking jar.

2. Egressing the airplane when you've landed in forest or mountainous terrain will be into a forest or steep land. Unless the airplane is on fire, taking an extra thirty seconds to figure out up from down, how to get out without hurting more, and how to retrieve the jacket foolishly tossed in the back seat, or the survival gear in the baggage, is not an issue. You can come back to the plane, too, and get it later.Underwater egress is a disorienting, panicky thing that is time-limited because every second you're going further down, and there's no more extra air.

3. On land, there's a trail of damage and broken plane for searchers to see. That's a whole lot bigger than one little bitty person in a big huge lake.

4. Water is a signal insulator. It doesn't matter if your ELT antenna is under four feet of water or four hundred, the sattelites will never hear your electronic cry for help. (PS - I know the FAA seems to market the new 406 as having a remote-turn-off switch, but if you're going to ditch or probably flip the plane, think of it as a remote-turn-on switch, so you get a cry for help out before the signal is buried in dirt or underwater.)

5. Hypothermia. Unless you plan on crashing in blood-warm water, hypothermia will kill you. There are time tables on how long it takes - up in Alaska, we're talking minutes, not hours or days. And if you're in the water in a lake or ocean, how do you plan to get out of it?

6. Blood loss and ability to bind your wounds. Wounds soaked in water don't clot too well. In waters warm enough the hypothermia won't kill you right off, you're bleeding a dinner bell of here-shark-shark-shark.

Turn the question around: other than saving time IF nothing goes wrong, is there any good reason TO fly straight-line over water?


 

 



Michael Johnson
Homebuilder or Craftsman
90
Posts
30
#10 Posted: 3/28/2010 13:16:45

NO, when my Stits is finished it will never be flown over a large body of water like the Great lakes. I don't mind the extra cost when I consider how rare it is to fly around water.

And trees do not cushion an impact, they tear things apart quickly!

MJ



Joanne Palmer
Young Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or Craftsman
276
Posts
68
#11 Posted: 3/28/2010 13:23:22

There was a video of a pilot ditching his Cessna 182 (I believe) just off shore of Hawaii.  Even though the aircraft landed intact, the pilot did NOT get out nor did he/she survive.  Most ferry pilots have a technique to ditch an aircraft when over the ocean some recommend literally stalling just above the water surface to minimize forward speed.  Even then they have the door open and their survival gear on AND on the seat next to them.  So while overflying a large lake might seem like a good idea, I'd only do it at an altitude of at least 1000 feet for each MILE to shore by the shortest distance.  For a small single with a naturally aspirated engine, the distance I can travel at 12000 altitude is about 12 miles, that makes the body of water about 20 miles across.  YMMV 



Joe LaMantia
Young Eagles Pilot or Volunteer
175
Posts
69
#12 Posted: 3/28/2010 14:13:06

Adam has some very good tips if your going to cross Lake Michigan for Wisconsin or the reverse course.  I rarely fly single engine aircraft across the Lake having grown-up on the Wisconsin shore I have a great respect for it's beauty and it's dangers.  The water doesn't warm-up much even in late summer. You won't last long without a wet suit.  I fly from Ohio to Kenosha, Wi several times a year and I go around the bottom from Fort Wayne to Joliet then north to Galt (10C) then NE to Kenosha (UES).  This route adds maybe 30 minutes to the flight, but the peace of mind is well worth the time and $.


Joe


P.S.  Don't try ditching a high wing without water survival training and maybe scuba gear! 



Bill Standerfer
7
Posts
7
#13 Posted: 3/28/2010 21:26:39

I teach moutain flying here in Colorado and I have to say that there are some places in the Rockies that I might trade for a big lake for an emergency landing place.  We teach planning a route the minimizes the risk, but there are simply some places where I wonder if I spent enough on the last annual to make sure the risks are as low as possible.  We've flown to Alaska a couple of times and there are places in northern Alberta, BC, and The Yukon that don't have a lot of great emergency landing opportunities in some places over the heavily forested areas.  I'm not sure whether I'd prefer water or the trees.

In 1988, we had just crossed Lake Michigan in a rented Aztec when Flight Service came up on 121.5 trying to contact a Mooney that was having engine problems about 20 miles off shore northeast of Chicago.  We relayed their position until the airplane went into the water.  It was pretty spooky talking to a pilot on the way in.  After we landed in Dayton, I called Flight Service to find out what happened and they said that both occupants were rescued with only minor injuries.  The airplane sank in about 600' of water.

We've crossed Lake Michigan several times in our Baron and I'm glad to have two engines.

Bill

 



Adam Baker
Homebuilder or Craftsman
32
Posts
8
#14 Posted: 3/29/2010 04:12:34

Alright, so this is a pretty good discussion. Everyone has some really good information and advice. Thank you very much Dorthy for sharing your advice as well, and thank you Bill for sharing your personal experience. Yes, flying over water is always a gamble, as I've stated before... however that doesn't mean that people aren't going to do it. For this reason, it's great that we throw our advice out there for the many knuckleheads (including myself)  that make the gamble every time they cross big bodies of water in their aircraft.

There are some advantages to flying over the lake. In the summertime, it's usually not as turbulent along the lakeshores than it is when flying over the land... but the cons definitely outweigh the pros. Also in my opinion, I always inform my passengers on the dangers of flying over the lake rather than around it. If they're not comfortable with it, then it's not fair to even put them in that situation. When flying over the lake you're not gambling with your own life, but EVERY soul on board. Just something else to consider...



Robert Dingley
Homebuilder or Craftsman
161
Posts
38
#15 Posted: 3/29/2010 23:41:58

There is over water flying and there is OVER WATER flying.

Powerplant: Turbines are said to be 7 times more reliable than pistons. Two are better than one. I won't even discuss 2 cycle engines. How old are your filters? Capacitance fuel gauges are desirable and are actually expected to be dead on.

Equipment: If you're talking about over 50 miles from shore, you're talking extended over water standards. For that, ICAO requires multi engine. But not here in the US. For part 91 you don't really need a raft. You better have TSO'ed PFDs. A USCG approved PFD could trap you inside if you flip. Those TSOed types that  are in a pouch worn around your waist are dangererous. There have been cases of people not able to open the pouch, put it around their neck and pull the toggle. If you have a raft, it should be tethered to the A/C. Nothing more embarrassing than letting a 40 lb tightly wrapped uninflated rubber raft slip from your hands and sink. Never, never inflate PFDs of rafts inside an A/C. Go through the drill.

Flight following: Those that do it routinely under 135 make position reports every 15 minutes. That coupled with SatCom that has been available for 10 or 12 years defines the flight following standard. Will you be in radar/radio contact? Whats the water temp? sea state? No single engine over 10 ft waves, period.

Weather: Nexrad does not extend that far offshore. Thats why WX radar is real handy. Don't get pushed further from shore by unexpected weather that you cannot penetrate to get back.

SUA: The coastlines of the US are surrounded with Warning Areas. Don't come off as dumb by requesting clearance through one. Nobody can keep you out. Therefore, no one will issue approval for entry. All you will get is"Pilot's descretion, maintain VFR." Instead, request info from center or FSS (by telephone before departure) on the activity, active times and altitudes. Then, if its "cold" make your informed decision. They usually are only "hot" for part of the day. Usually unused below 2,000. If its "hot" and you enter anyway, you deserve to be cited for careless and reckless. Don't forget the DVFR flight plan if you operate in the ADIZ. If you operate south of 26 deg lat, better discuss it further with FSS or center.

Before GPS, Satcom and when LoranC was young, single engine helicopters dead reckoned out 250 miles with only a whisky compass and a rabbit's foot.  

Done right, its a hoot.



Joe Norris
Vintage Aircraft Association MemberYoung Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or CraftsmanAirVenture Volunteer
328
Posts
137
#16 Posted: 3/30/2010 11:03:23
Adam Baker wrote:

Life jackets are a must,

Life jackets are a good idea, but depending on what body of water you're flying over they might not be so much of a "life" jacket.  A Coast Guard helicopter pilot who flies in the Great Lake area once told me that he really hopes all pilots wear bright orange life jackets when they cross any of the Great Lakes.  His exact words were "that's not so we can save you.  That's so we can find you.  It helps bring closure to the families."  The big lakes up here are just way to cold, even in the summer time, to have much chance of survival unless you're lucky enough to be rescued pretty quickly.

And besides, I helped pull a friend's airplane out of a lake one time.  No way I want any of my airplanes to go through that!

Cheers!

Joe



Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate
Joseph Herman
Young Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or Craftsman
2
Posts
0
#17 Posted: 3/31/2010 15:35:08

With all my bad habits, water won't be what does me in!   I fly over lake mich all the time. If you don't trust your equipment...well then maybe the problem starts there..

 

Fly-safe



Coy Austin
1
Post
0
#18 Posted: 5/7/2010 13:06:03

I've kept a house on Eleuthera, Bahamas and fly back and forth regularly. Yes, I'm in a C-310 but I see dozens, even hundreds, of single engine airplanes come and go without incident. We are even seeing a few LSA s now. In the 25 years that I've been here the only single engine plane I can remember hitting the water was a Mooney that tried to penetrate a thunderstorm. Not a good idea no matter what's down below. This one hit the water in pieces. I fly out of Ft. Pierce, FL and see dozens of singles launch out of there for different parts of the Bahamas.And that's only one FL airport serving our paradise.