My last column, “Asleep at the Yoke,” included a report about a Piper Seneca pilot who had to ditch his airplane in the Gulf of Mexico. The thought of having to ditch an aircraft intrigued me, especially when I realized there is a different psychology to the act of ditching vs. an intentional forced landing on terra firma.
Putting an aircraft down on the ground allows the pilot the possibility of returning to the plane, of examining it to determine the cause of the malfunction, of gaining closure.
Not the same for ditchings. In the Aviation Safety Reporting System reports I researched, half of the aircraft pilots landed in a body of water were never recovered. Those pilots never got a definitive determination on the root cause of the ditching. They never saw that aircraft again.
Every pilot I know wants to know that sort of thing. They need to know that stuff. Pilots are like other humans. We like closure. [Read more…]