The Civil Air Patrol (CAP), Florida Wing, Group 5 recently held an Over-Water Survival in-class and pool session. Twenty-five (25) participants completed the requirements to earn this certification, which includes classroom training, an aircraft egress exercise, an online test, and a practical exercise in a pool. The Marco Island YMCA graciously provided the pool and lifeguard. Instructors, Lt Col Dave Moruzzi and Maj David Walsh, veterans of many OWS courses, provided interesting and effective presentations and guidance.
All aircrew personnel (mission pilots, observers, and scanners) who will be operating outside of gliding distance of land are required to complete this training every three years. Many of CAP’s cooperative missions with the Air Force require flights beyond gliding distance.
The presentations focus on proven procedures and techniques that the aircrews should know and follow before, during, and after the ditching (water landing). The practical exercises focus on applying those processes and assimilating the steps until they become second nature. Egress from the airplane is one of those exercises where the raft is thrown out of the aircraft, and the crewmembers exit the plane in a minimum amount of time. Camaraderie and encouragements from the rest of the squad help accomplish the training successfully.
Safety is one of CAP’s top priorities, so this training is critical because using the techniques included in this training offers an expected 88% survival rate in the event of a ditching. Practicing the skills in a pool, wearing a flight suit, shoes, and a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) helps reinforce esprit de corps as aircrews work together to demonstrate treading water, swimming 50+ feet, and climbing into a raft, which is harder than it sounds. Most importantly, participants are able to experience the power of a PFD, particularly when their clothes and shoes fill with water and feel quite heavy.
All participants completed the program successfully and demonstrated that we are proficient and ready for over-water missions. This is just one of the many training programs Civil Air Patrol uses to stay proficient and to mitigate the risks inherent in flying missions for America. Lt. Col. Moruzzi concluded, “I feel the most important factor in any survival situation is having a positive personal attitude, and the best way to gain the right attitude is through realistic training.”