On March 31st and April 1st, Haris and I attended a two day aircraft ditching and Sea Survival course hosted by Survival Systems, Inc., in Groton/Mystic, Connecticut. They have sites in Alabama and Kentucky as well, but those sites are strictly for use by the Military. It was two days of grueling experiences that taught us how to ditch a plane, how to get out of the air frame, deploy the raft and what all to do to survive. Interestingly, the instructors brought up things we don’t even think about and when they are brought out, the light bulb really goes on.
One thing we found out was that the water is the warmest in the top 12 inch layer. Therefore, the best thing to do is to lay flat on one’s back and float to minimize heat loss. The maximum heat loss occurs from the groin area, therefore, curling up in a ball is also a good idea. Having a large contractors garbage bag handy to fill with water and then putting oneself inside the bag and wearing it up to the the neck creates a buffer around the body that slows down the onset of hypothermia.
When ditching in a private plane or a commercial plane, NEVER deploy your life vest until you can breathe on your own outside the water. There are very serious implications of deploying the vest too soon that include death. Above all, remain calm – panic kills. If possible practice, practice and practice.
Now we have much better clarity of what all to carry in our survival bags. We already have a Winslow 4-person ocean raft and canopy with a desalinator kit on its way. The standard list for us now includes EPIRB, PLBs, 3 weeks of sustenance, green survival lasers, Mustang full immersion survival suits, life vests and a bunch of other stuff.
This course was well worth the time, effort and money. Having had the experience of losing an engine and having to make an emergency landing, I have a much sharper focus on the importance of preparing for survival than an average person. Luck favors those that are better prepared……