Author Topic: Grab Bag Contents  (Read 3410 times)

Paul Hitchen

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Grab Bag Contents
« on: July 26, 2014, 06:56:07 PM »
I am putting a grab bag together for a light aircraft flight over the channel and would appreciate advice. This is just in case the spiny thing at the front stops mid channel and I end up swimming the last bit. It has to give a nod to overall weight. Plus it is a busy shipping lane, so if I make the ditch I will probably be run over before I get picked up  :D

Thoughts please ?

McMurdo Ranger PLB £199.
Pans Wessex red flare £10
Pans Wessex orange smoke £17
Mcmurdo floating grab bag £33 to put it all in - 5 m of floating rope tied to it.

100 lumen waterproof torch £22

AESU FTA-310 AIRBAND TRANSCEIVER £190, waterproof , 5w, new 8.33 channel compatible  - to transmit on 121.5 to overflying aircraft (most aircraft have a second set listening on the emergency channel). It will be nice to have someone talk to someone while I wait to be picked up. Plus my mobile will be in a man overboard bag around my neck in case I am in range of shore and can phone for pizza.
(I thought about a marine band but I can use the air band in the aircraft in a normal flight if the 2 sets on board decide to pack in).

Jotron strobe floating.
Jotron 121.5 transceiver (I had this already not sure if blasting out on this at the same time as the 220 does it as well, will help or hinder).

Water, big block of chocky, a couple of ambulance dressings, foil blanket (radar defection).

4 person dinghy with cover (rented), plus flight crew life vests  (owned already) and worn throughout.

Thought about mirror but it’s usually cloudy over the channel ! Whistle, maybe but not much use to attract a helicopter ☺.  Thought about immersion suit but it will be summer and you can go too far, the odds are small that it chooses exactly that 25 mile stretch out of 250 to pack up, vs sweating my nuts off and not enjoying the trip.

Any advice gratefully received. Many thanks in advance.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2014, 07:49:53 PM by Lyle Brotherton »

Sandy Sanderson

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Re: Grab Bag Contents
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2014, 10:48:22 PM »
Paul,

Just a couple of points to consider while floating around in the big blue sea, this is what I have picked up from been in the navy (which are still current practices).

If you can change one of the air band transceivers to a 9GHz X-band Radar transceiver , this will allow navigational radar from other ships (and possible some helicopters) to pick you up in the water and has an approximate range of about 12 nautical miles. However they are not cheap about £500.

Do not drink any water for the first 24hr as you have very limited water with you and anything you put into your body in the first day will be wasted as urine. The theory behind this is that your body is full of water when you have made your escape into the life raft.

Change the chocy bar to boiled sweets, they require less water to digest and absorb into the body or so the navy lead me to believe.

Also some sea sickness tablets to your pack and ensure that everybody takes them as soon as you have them in your life raft. Once again it’s about preserving what fluid you have in your body; don’t want people bringing it up.

With regards to the Immersion Suits (Survival Suits), the average temperature of the English Channel is about 6-8 degrees on a night time and 15-18 degrees in the day during the summer months.  The average survival time is in the 6-8 degrees is approximately 2 hours with unconsciousness after 45 minutes.  At 15-18 degrees this is approximately 2 - 40 hours. Survival Suits greatly increase these times, to 4.5 in 6-8 degrees of water before unconsciousness.

Hope this has helped

Sandy

Lyle Brotherton

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Re: Grab Bag Contents
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2014, 07:36:28 AM »
Informed reply Sandy, I have learned a lot from it :)

"At 15-18 degrees this is approximately 2 - 40 hours." Is that 2hr 40 mins Sandy?

Survival Suits - working with the CG in Nova Scotia, it was compulsory to be fitted and wear a SS. I was also informed that the correct fitting was very important, so that I could move freely both in the water and out. However, in an exercise run by CTCRM, inserting RMs by Sea King onto Braunton Burrows, the troops wear PFDs and the crew SS.

The English Channel is the busiest shipping lane in the world, with not only multiple craft but minute sector control from both the British and French authorities. Plus you have UK SAR helicopters at Wattisham and Lee on Solent, both within 8-10 mins flying time for this area of the Channel: I doubt that you would be unassisted for long.

Secondly, your landing on the sea will be a crash landing and the aircraft may well come to rest at an unusual angle, even upside down., so SS/PFDs etc., would need to be already worn by each passenger during the flight.

Furthermore, escaping a submerging aircraft in the murky waters of the English Channel will be no easy feat. All of the aforementioned groups practice this before they are allowed to fly and from personal experience, even in an adapted swimming pool, this is difficult!

Lastly, my inkling would be to create 2 grab bags and share the components logically i.e. if one is lost/inaccessible you could still survive with the remaining one.

It’s that old acceptable risk level Paul, which you and I wrestle with on every MR shout or when we climb. Your risk of a crash in a private light aircraft is significantly greater than flying on a commercial aircraft. The experience of the pilot on a commercial aircraft will be measured in the thousands of hours compared to the hundreds, maybe less, for you. So like MR and climbing it depends how much you want to do it, and what level of risk you are prepared to expose your friends/family to.

Either way, send me a postcard please ;)
« Last Edit: July 28, 2014, 07:42:21 AM by Lyle Brotherton »
“Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance” - Plato

Pete McK

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Re: Grab Bag Contents
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2014, 08:22:38 AM »
In today’s newspaper: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/aviation/10194021/Search-for-British-pilot-after-Channel-plane-crash.html

Maybe Air France return LHR-CDG £86 seems a better idea, plus you get a toilet ;)
« Last Edit: July 27, 2014, 09:02:46 AM by Pete McK »

Lost Soul

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Re: Grab Bag Contents
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2014, 02:15:16 PM »
Paul a grab bag is a nice idea in theory but in practice it is going to be waste of time.  Where are you going to keep it for easy access as your plane starts sinking?  Your time to grab it and evacuate is extremely limited; seconds rather than minutes.  Strapped to the seat next to you is the only useful place.  Your priority is for you and your occupants to evacuate ASAP.

Sandy sorry but your survival times are over optimistic and sea temperatures not entirely correct.  Based on a major review of post accident sea survival I was heavily involved in many years ago following major loss of life in a helicopter accident in the North Sea.  http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/33/CAP641.PDF 

I can advise the following.   (I also used to lecture on the subject.)

Summer sea temperature is constant day and night at 6 – 8 deg C for the North Sea and English Channel in spring.  It warms up during summer to reach its peak around mid autumn 12 to 14 deg C.  It cools down rapidly in spring due to arctic ice melt.

Survival time in 6 deg C water is 20 minutes.  Hypothermia takes over, you go unconscious and drown.  In 12 deg C water you are looking at maybe an hour.  In 6 deg C water a well insulated and properly sealed survival suit will in theory give you 4 hours in reality 2.5 to 3 hours.
This is because you degrade the insulation with your own body fluids.  Sweat and urine, add to that any leaks around the seals and zips letting in sea water.

Your only useful strategy is to wear a well-insulated survival suit, with constant wear life jacket that has self-righting buoyancy characteristics.  Without self-righting if you go unconscious the waves will roll you over a leave you face down in the water – you drown.  With self-righting buoyancy characteristics you are always kept face up.
 
Also needs a crotch strap to anchor the thing to your shoulders.  If not when in the water you slide down the thing until suspended from your arm pits by the waist strap.  Your head is now under water, you drown.

Another also need is a water splash, face mask hood.  Waves splash water on to your face.  When conscious you physically react to keep the water out of your mouth and airways.   As you start to go unconscious you can no longer do that so you drown.

As for useful gadgets wear them on your suit and or life jacket.  That is the ONLY way you know you will get them out of the aircraft.   A knife to cut you free.  A PLB.  A whistle, and a long endurance locater light / strobe and reflective tape on the above water sections of your life jacket and spray hood.  Flares if you think you need them.  Insulated gloves are also a must.  In 6 deg C water your hands rapidly go stiff and numb and you cannot operate any of the fiddley controls on your gadgets.

Carrying a life raft is always useful.  And being inside it significantly increase survival time.  Body heat loss in air is about 20 times slower than in cold water.  But consider the following.  Where are you going to keep it on the aircraft so that it is readily available?  Even when packed its buoyant, so if its in a partially flooded aircraft how you going to get it out if its floating above  a door or hatch opening?  OK so you get it out and inflate it.  Its evens that it will be floating upsde down so you have to right it.  Have you been practically trained to do that?  Its not easy in fact can be downright dangerous - entrapment underneath it, flailing gas cylinders and all that. 

Also before you inflate it you need to tie it off to something like your sinking aircraft.  Else it will get blown way by the wind – the canopy makes a nice sail.  20 kt wind,  you swimming after at 2 kts, separation speed 18 kts in favour of the raft.

In terms of ditching in the channel the middle bit is the best.  Right in the middle of the sea lanes.  Plenty of chances of being picked up by passing ship.  Worst places are close to the coast, away from shipping lanes.  That is where most post ditching “survivors” die.  Takes too long to get SAR assets to find and rescue you in good time.   A very high percentage of occupants survive the on water arrival yet only half live to tell the tale.  The rest die from hypothermia induced drowning.  Aggravated by not wearing proper protective kit and not having any location aids.

Finally invest in an underwater escape and survival training course.  Can totally recommend it.  Worth their weight in gold.  Half day courses are available.

Paul Hitchen

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Re: Grab Bag Contents
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2014, 05:54:50 PM »
All many thanks for the good advice much appreciated.  I realise it is a risk and in all likelihood it will go very smoothly, but if it does go wrong it goes wrong with a bang from your advice.   

I have done hundred of hours potting about and the engine has not coughed once, so it will be just my luck it chooses the 21 miles of wet bit to do it over!   Yes I guess the theory of a nice slow speed ditch and it floating for a few seconds is dream world.  It will be a 60 knot smack into a brick wall probably flipping over as Lost Soul says!

I was thinking of having the grab bag on the passengers lap. As you know with a light aircraft with one exit you open the door just before a forced landing in case it buckles. So the theory was the passenger throws it out holding onto the floating rope then follows it. 

But I get the message about having all the stuff attached to you and wear a survival suit as well looks like the best chance of surviving (presuming the ditch didn't finish you off).   (knife, strobe, plb etc all about your person).    My life jacket does have crotch straps luckily.

I was going to leave the dinghy on the rear seat with floating rope so if I did make it out and the aircraft takes a few seconds to sink, I might be able to pull it out behind me onto the wing.  Or maybe not reading the above! But I will throw one in anyway.  I did do a course years ago with air cadets on turning a dinghy over, getting in and playing with the SARBE, but that was a nice summer's day and all very safe for kiddies.   A ditching course sounds like a good idea.  Blimey this Sunday lunch in France is getting expensive. 

Ah well as my old Dad used to say, you are a long time looking at the lid - enjoy life.

Lyle Brotherton

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Re: Grab Bag Contents
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2014, 07:52:28 AM »
Superb informed advice Lost Soul.

I read the single most important thing is to get out of the aircraft first and therefore invest in an underwater escape and survival training course.

I suggest Paul that you find a course which is run by an ex-Royal Navy Air Survival Technician.

These guys and girls train crew members in the use of immersion suits, flying helmets, survival packs, radio beacons, distress flares, life jackets and life rafts, as well as how to escape underwater from a ditched helicopter and are excellent in what they do.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2014, 07:54:48 AM by Lyle Brotherton »
“Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance” - Plato

Callum

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Re: Grab Bag Contents
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2014, 04:03:08 PM »
As always, great info here :)

Interest evaluating risk when your family is involved. We spent our last summer in Kenya and originally we were going to hire a car there, that is, until a colleague suggested we check out their road safety stats. Had it just been my wife and me maybe I would not have, but since we are tasking our two children I went on-line. The insurance industry compiles these figures and we discovered that there are:

7 deaths per 100,000 of population in the UK every year
9 in France
10 in Spain
1638 in Kenya!

No hire car;)

These full results are available at http://www.lifequotes4u.co.uk/infographics/car-deaths-around-the-world
« Last Edit: July 28, 2014, 04:07:48 PM by Callum »