Not only did training to be a bush-pilot include wilderness and advanced first aid training, but also simulations of possible “ditching” a.k.a emergency landing in water.
This type of training will come in handy if for some reason the airplane can’t remain airborne and is forced to go down in a body of water. Now, hopefully that will not happen, but if it happens there will be a much more likely chance of survival for both me and whomever is a passenger on my flight.
One might ask why this is important to have a feel for. Isn’t it pretty common sense that you try to get out as soon as possible when you end up in water? Yes, it is, but it is not so obvious how to do it without panic or getting into further trouble.
The basic procedure we were taught was to first call out a mayday and the location of where you plan to ditch. This makes it possible for any rescuers to have an idea of where to search for survivors.
Next, you make sure to unplug your headset from the aircraft so that your head doesn’t remain stuck to the airplane. This should be done before you hit the water.
Also before contact with the surface is made, find a reference point to hold onto with your hand. This is done in order to navigate with your other hand to find the door handle. It is important to never let go of the reference point or else you may become completely disoriented.
The seat belt holds you into place on your seat and fixes you to your original position in relation to your reference point and also your exit. To avoid getting disoriented by the movement of the cockpit, wait for the rotation of the vessel to stop and then unbuckle your belt. Remember to always hold on to your reference point and unbuckle your belt with the free hand.
Now find the door handle with your free hand by referencing the position of the hand holding your reference point. Open the door. Since you now may or may not be upside down and no visual clues to how you are oriented the handle may feel like it is opening in the wrong direction.
Push the door open and swim out the door opening. Float to the surface and breathe.
As a pilot flying passengers this training also increases the likelihood of passenger survival by briefing them on how to best get out of the aircraft. Emergency briefing is actually very important to pay attention to when flying on any flight. Fun fact I learned this last month is that the brace position of leaning forward in your seat is in case of an emergency landing is extremely important. The reason why you should do it the way you are told it that your head is too heavy for the spine to support if the aircraft comes down for a hard landing. If sitting straight on your seat and the aircraft hits the ground for a very hard landing, your head may have built up enough inertia to generate g-forces down on your spine high enough to make you head be punctured by your spine.
However, if you lean forward your back will function like a spring board and dampen the forces generated to your body through a hard landing. So, four your own sake, listen to the safety briefing!