Flying Over Water on Piston Single Aircraft?

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by cocolos, Nov 30, 2012.

  1. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Like I said, over the desert especially, it's all in the moon. A good full moon night you can see just fine, even determine texture in terrain early in the full moon evening.
     
  2. Tony_Scarpelli

    Tony_Scarpelli Pattern Altitude

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    You are right! Thanks!
     
  3. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    That was the cool thing about being out west, lots of clear VFR nights. I used to cross the mountains in the winter over snow and under the moonlight, it was downright bright out.
     
  4. Apache123

    Apache123 Line Up and Wait

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    Hey, Steve!
    Indubitably. It's astounding the difference the moon can make over Lake Michigan.
     
  5. Piloto

    Piloto Line Up and Wait

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    One scenario you want to be careful is when flying in the vicinity of mountains, bodies of water and city lights at night. At night the shadow of a mountain over the lights of a city can be mistaken by a lake and vice versa. Be familiar with lakes and mountains in your area. GPS navigators with terrain depiction are a big help in this scenario.

    José
     
  6. poadeleted21

    poadeleted21 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Those cold, crystal clear nights in MT were the best flying. Plenty of horsepower compared to the anemic performance in the summer. I'd launch around sunset climb up,to 11500 or so, make north south laps over the mountains and see night roll in to the east and the sun still shining to the west, you can see forever up there at night too with all the moisture removed from the air.
     
  7. doakley

    doakley Filing Flight Plan

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    Actually trade winds vary from NE-SE depending on time of year, more northerly in winter. Even more accurately they vary based on the direction I want to go......
     
  8. N801BH

    N801BH Touchdown! Greaser! Gone West

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    :yes::yesnod::thumbsup:
     
  9. Morne

    Morne Line Up and Wait

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    Forgive my ignorance, but if you are a current instrument rated pilot who cares about the lack of external horizon?

    Or were you being extra cautious because you were flying an unfamiliar aircraft? Was the aircraft even IFR equipped?

    On my way to Oshkosh this year the horizon was obscured by haze at 12,500' over Lake Michigan. I had my co-pilot keep a VFR watch and I glued my face to the panel. Didn't phase me a bit.
     
  10. Apache123

    Apache123 Line Up and Wait

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    Hey, Steve!
    As a VFR pilot I believe this can be logged as time in actual IMC.
    :stirpot:
     
  11. azure

    azure Final Approach

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    Yes -- though I'll bet that at 12.5, the time over water without a visible horizon was pretty short.

    Unless it was just so hazy that there was no visible horizon anywhere at that altitude. There are days like that here in the summer. Whether you're willing to fly VFR on them, as long as the vis is > 3 miles, is entirely a personal choice.

    edit: whoopsie, I believe that's 5 miles, since they were over 10k.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2012
  12. Morne

    Morne Line Up and Wait

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    Since I had a safety pilot lookout and was operating solely by reference to instruments I logged it as simulated instrument time.
     
  13. Apache123

    Apache123 Line Up and Wait

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    Hey, Steve!
    Ahh but that's the difference, it could be logged as actual, not simulated! :D
     
  14. azure

    azure Final Approach

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    Were you wearing a view-limiting device? If not, then it was actual. The safety pilot doesn't make it simulated vs actual.

    I have a few tenths of hours actual logged here and there from flying over the lakes in hazy conditions. Most of that time was solo. Having a safety pilot in conditions like that is a nice luxury.
     
  15. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Well, right for Liz anyway. I reconsidered things a lot after a plane that's in my logbook went to the bottom of the lake. Pilot was uninjured in the ditching, but died from hypothermia.

    I still go over the lake, but I have a very specific protocol that I follow. It's one of the few set-in-stone personal minimums I have.

    Slower than a Cardinal???
     
  16. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Cardinal RG, nobody with any sense buys a fixed gear one.
     
  17. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    What makes you think the pilot would necessarily have survived had the plane crashed in hostile terrain, or even an appropriate middle of nowhere area in the midwest?

    There are other things equally if not more dangerous than over-water flight. Judging from the number of CFIT crashes, terrain is one of them...
     
  18. Dead Stick

    Dead Stick Line Up and Wait

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    It's not illegal, but there are taxes and fees involved - a lot of taxes and fees. The required permits will take a while to be approved, so don't be in a big rush. Those environmental impact studies take their time. However, everything is pretty much waived if you are an undocumented airman. In fact, there are several government offices that will assist you in planning and conducting your proposed over-water flight. If money is an issue, they will even give you a grant. :mad2:
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2012
  19. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Because death isn't only a yes-or-no thing. Taking a cold bath in Lake Michigan would be a painful, agonizing, too-slow death. I'd much prefer a quick smush in a CFIT accident.

    Plus, if you're not over water you've got a chance. If you go into Lake Michigan for a good chunk of the year, you're pretty much hosed. In this particular ditching, the coast guard was underway to the expected ditching location while the plane was still in the air. They still didn't make it in time.
     
  20. N801BH

    N801BH Touchdown! Greaser! Gone West

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    Sad but.......... So True...:mad::mad::sad:
     
  21. hnl.flyboy

    hnl.flyboy Pre-Flight

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    I live in warm Hawaii, so ditching in the water would be survivable, but I don't think I could find a boat at 10k'.
     
  22. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    Where you lin the flatlands, if you don't hit a building or power lines, you're pretty safe, so I suppose I can see your mentality. That said, in the end, if you're dead you're dead.

    My point is, though, many folks who claim they won't fly over we're because it's not safe will gladly fly over mountainous terrain with arguably greater peril. You can hit a mountain if you aim wrong or if your engine goes out. You should only hit the water if your engine goes out.
     
  23. douglas393

    douglas393 Pattern Altitude

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    It seems to me that the vast majority of crashes I read about seem to be crashes into flat lands, from things other than engine failure. Even so I think if it would be prudent to be prepared for the unlikely event if flying over water to have what you need to keep you out of water should you need to ditch. Even if I was flying over warm water I think I would keep a emergency raft on the plane. I may not be able to get to it, but I will have a much better chance to get to it if it was in the plane than if not. I am not sure I would anymore want to die of hypothermia in the great lakes than to get eaten by a shark in the pacific of gulf. Also remember, you still can die of hypothermia in relatively warm water, it just takes longer than cold water.
    Doug
     
  24. Mike5250

    Mike5250 Line Up and Wait

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    At sun n' fun the bahamas flying seminars had some good ideas... Mark boats that you fly over as user waypoints on your gps. They are barely moving relative to your speed. And pick the cruise ship over the boat carrying shipping containers.

    At 10k a fishing boat may not stand out but cruise ship or ferry boat will be visible.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2012
  25. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You haven't flown over Lake Michigan, then. Recreational boats generally stay within a couple miles of the shore. Lake Michigan is between 45 and 75 nautical miles wide, depending on where you cross. There's not enough shipping happening on the Great Lakes any more to help much, and there aren't any cruise ships out in the middle of the lake either (the only "cruise" ships on Lake Michigan are the dinner/booze cruises, and they stay pretty close to shore too). There are two ferries, but they have somewhat limited schedules and very limited routes.

    So, there are very large portions of time and space over Lake Michigan where you will not be able to ditch anywhere near a boat - There's very little activity on the lake outside of the summer months, and it's a HUGE lake.
     
  26. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Good points. People should be just as afraid of terrain as water.

    I must admit, terrain does scare me less than water as well, but partially that's because if I have to crash into terrain after an engine failure, it's probably gonna be a less unpleasant death than water. I'd also like to think that I have some semblance of control over how I'm going to go in that might allow for survival, but no matter what I do going into the lake, if it's the wrong time of year I'm completely screwed.
     
  27. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    The difference is that to crash into a lake, either your engine quits or you lose control.

    To crash into a mountain, you can just lose situational awareness as well as have an engine quit or lose control. So I'd rather minimize my liklihood of crashing first and foremost.
     
  28. N801BH

    N801BH Touchdown! Greaser! Gone West

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    My mistake... I grew up down south and on any given day you could walk to the Bahamas from boat to boat. I just google earthed the lake and I cannot find more then 5 boats on the water...

    I actually thought there would be iron ore carriers and other large vessels constantly cruising across the lake.

    Of course the pic was taken in March so that might explain why.. Never the less, the motor is the plane doesn't care what time of year it is to quit on ya..:no:
     
  29. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    :rofl:

    Aside from the fact that it's not pleasant to be on a boat on Lake Michigan for half the year, I don't think many people ever cross the lake on their boats because you get to the other side and... Well, you're in Michigan, not the Bahamas! :lol: Given the similarities between Michigan and Wisconsin in terms of terrain, leisure activities available, etc there isn't much incentive to take a boat across the lake, especially since in many cases you could get there almost as fast in your car while burning a lot less fuel.

    Yep. There's usually some in the water near Chicago. In the summer near Chicago and Milwaukee there will be lots - But they're all within a couple miles of the shore.

    There is still shipping on the Great Lakes, but not at the level where there's always an ore carrier or other cargo boat within gliding distance by any means. In fact, in all my crossings I only ever remember seeing one.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2012
  30. comanchepilot

    comanchepilot En-Route

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    Joe Farrell, yeah, him
    You are not flying in the mitten variety unless they have the zip open or zip off . . which destroys the insulation benefit of the mittens. . ..

    And if you are wearing a survival suit you need to wear it before you set foot in the airplane and they are darn uncomfortable . . .
     
  31. comanchepilot

    comanchepilot En-Route

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    You think so? I flew over Lake Michigan from Benton Harbor to Chicago for a week three summers ago going from Hartford to O'Hare for work literally M/W/F on the 730a flight and home on the 3pm. Could not stay or I would have - but the point being that on every single one of those flights which was VFR from just outside Benton Harbor looking north on the lake in JULY I saw not a single boat on the sirface from about 2-3 miles off Benton Harbor until I got to the other shoreline. Nothing - zippo.

    Benton Harbor is a huge pleasure destination in summer and Chicago obviously is in the top 5 cities in the nation in population - three times - middle of the week - in summer. No boats all the way across. With prob 15-20 mile visibility out the window - can't tell you what was on the other side - but if I was on the Victor Airway from Benton Harbor across the lake with an engine problem I'd be screwed . . .
     
  32. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    I once took an unplanned flight over Lake Michigan when diverted north by thunderstorm activity. I got as high as I reasonably could, and spent my time over the water thinking about what I'd do in a catastrophic engine failure (especially since there were no boats in evidence).

    I could probably have used by sleeping pad for flotation, had I been able to wrest it from the back of my stricken airplane. I'd have 20 minutes or so going down, so that might even be possible. But I was under no illusions that the Coast Guard would rescue me before I succumbed to hypothermia. Odds are the aircraft would flip over and I would drown anyway, or I would barely make it out with whatever was attached to my body, succumb to hypothermia and drown. I then decided if the worst happened and I couldn't make it damn close to shore I'd opt for blunt force trauma.

    Fortunately none of this happened, I made my flight and had a great time.
     
  33. cirrusmx

    cirrusmx Line Up and Wait

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    similar to flying single engine at night with out being able to see where to crash land. engine quits and you are probably dead in both cases. unless the BRS comes to the rescue!
     
  34. DavidWhite

    DavidWhite Final Approach

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    LOL, and how is a BRS going to save you if crashing into water? Unless it somehow magically turns the airplane into a raft too, you are just as boned as anyone flying a real airplane. It's not the landing itself, it's what transpires afterwards. I guarantee I can do a softer landing in the water gear up in my mooney than you can in the plastic fantastic under canopy.
     
  35. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    ??? There are months at a time where there are just a handful of boats on the Great Lakes and they are commercial with a top speed between 6 and 12 kts. It!s quite possible the nearest boat will be over an hour away. In <40* water, you don't have an hour. Great Lakes are just too easy to avoid, especially in the unfrozen part of winter, crossing the SE doesn't pass the risk/reward test.
     
  36. Apache123

    Apache123 Line Up and Wait

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    Hey, Steve!
    Henning / Ted, what sort of personal minimums do you guys set when flying over water in a twin?
     
  37. Henning

    Henning Ejection Handle Pulled

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    None for short jumps, extended overwater >70* life raft and life jacket, <70* I bring a Gumby suit. If the water is <50* I'll wear the suit to the waist with the rest over the seat back. Do not dream that you will be able to don the suit on your way down in a GA cockpit.
     
  38. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    What about an SVT requirement? :D
     
  39. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    About the same as Henning's, but he knows the terminology for rafts better. If it's a short over-water stint, I don't bother with anything. When I do the Gulf crossings between New Orleans and Mexico where there's a very long over-water stint, I bring a raft along.

    For the trips to Newfoundland, it's a bit different. Although we have a 150 nm stretch of the trip (roughly) that goes over water, we're never more than about 50 nm from land, which isn't far at all. And if you go down in the North Atlantic, you're pretty much dead anyway, unless you have a very sophisticated survival suit, which we don't have. So if I have a raft handy, I bring it. If I don't, I don't worry about it much.

    A friend of mine with an SR22 Turbo claims the BRS makes flying over water in his single as safe as in my twin. He can say that all he wants while he sits in the life raft and I'm happily flying along with one prop feathered and the other spinning towards land.
     
  40. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    That's just a normal AI, except the whole thing is blue instead of blue over brown/black. ;)