I recently participated in Survival Systems USA’s Aviation Survival and Egress Training (ASET) 3 course where we learned how to survive an unsuccessful water landing. In their words, the “accelerated program addressed the risks associated with frequent travel over or near water by providing pilots, aircrew, and passengers with pre-flight, in-flight, and post aircraft ditching knowledge and survival skills including use of Emergency Breathing Devices (EBDs).” FMI: https://www.survivalsystemsinc.com/aviation-survival-egress-training.html. While we could not film or take pictures during training because we had a VIP in our class, you can watch a summary video of some of what we did on their website.
“Ditching, ditching, ditching…” is what I heard all night for a few nights after the class as I was dreaming about all the scenarios and procedures we had performed. My fellow scholarship receipt and roommate, told me I even talked in my sleep the night after the training.
It was nothing like watching Bear Grylls while sitting on a couch in the comfort of my own home… It was one of those “once in a lifetime” experiences (best with some recurrent training to keep the skills fresh) you hope you never actually need to use. But one is better off with the training than without it!
We had roughly four hours of ground and four hours of pool practice. During ground, the instructor taught us some physiology concepts and we discussed everything we were going to do in the pool, learned best techniques for bracing, went through procedures and tips for exiting the aircraft, heard about lessons learned from their ongoing research and development (such as breathing techniques, clearing techniques, or disorientation), talked about survival equipment, etc.
During the second portion, after passing a written exam, we did a number of “dunking” runs with different:
We did them in the training chair (Shallow Water Egress Trainer or SWET, as they call it) first and then moved to the Modular Egress Training Simulator (METS). We did them exiting through our closest exit first and then simulating our closest exit was not available (locked, jammed, etc) and had to go across the aircraft to another exit. We did them holding our breath first and then did the more difficult ones with compressed air as well.
Additionally, they showed us what a life raft usually comes with, how to open it, how to get in and out of it based on the number of people available, etc. and how to get hoisted out of a helicopter using a basket and a winch with a harness.
The excitement never stopped.
The table in the file below describes some of the preconceptions I had going into the training and what I actually found:
And that’s all because you don’t know what you don’t know… or what we make up or imagine what we don’t know… I’m not sure which is worse!
The most important things that I learned or that refreshed my memory are:
These were the basic procedures I followed during every submersion:
And, believe it or not, AFTER ALL THAT… we still had smiles.
This training was honestly invaluable. I highly recommend everybody (especially seaplane pilots and those flying over open/large bodies of water) take it. I not only learned about all the different things that the class was meant for but I also learned about myself and overcame some fears. I am confident that I am now more likely to survive an otherwise unlikely and very unfortunate accident.
Before I close, I want to give BIG props to the Whirly-Girls and Survival Systems for giving me the opportunity to take this training by way of a scholarship and for just simply being amazing. The Whirly-Girls is the best organization I belong to and the Survival Systems facility, instructors, safety divers, etc were seriously impressive. The instructors were with us during our every move: teaching us, watching us, giving us feedback, making sure we were ok, and putting up with our runny noses. They even had time to re-buckle our seatbelts after we got out, even on those exercises we did without compressed air. I can’t get over that!
You know the phrase… “a pilot is always learning” and, as my dad would say, knowledge doesn’t occupy space; it’s the best investment one can make. What’s your next training going to be? Survival? Flight review? High altitude chamber? Another rating (an instrument rating is especially good!)? A higher certificate?
BLOGS ON THIS PAGE
- Aviation Survival and Egress Training: Training I Hope I Never Need to Use but Glad I Experienced
- NASA's Physiological Training
- Other Interesting Blogs
- Relationship between Holidays and Flying
- Helicopter Add-On: Transition Training From Fixed-Wing to Rotary-Wing
- Flying to National Parks
- Aviation Vocabulary and Phrases in Spanish
- Friendly Airports and Helipads in the Central Southwest Region
- What to Do with Your Pilot Certificate