On Saturday, March 24, Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Florida Wing Group 5 held an Over-Water Survival in-class and pool session. Twenty-five participants completed the requirements to earn this certification, which include classroom training, an aircraft egress exercise, an online test, and a practical exercise in a pool. The Marco Island YMCA 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, including mission pilots, observers, and scanners who operate outside of gliding distance of land are required to complete this training every three years. Many of CAPís cooperative missions with the Air Force require flights beyond gliding distance.
The course topics focus on proven procedures and techniques for emergency water landings. The practical exercises allow participants to apply the processes and assimilate 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 crew members 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 CAPís 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," said Moruzzi. "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. 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."
Maj. David Walsh reviews the contents of the raft carried in the planes for over-water missions. (photo credit: Maj. Motyl-Szary)
The course participants gather around the plane for the 60-second egress test. (photo credit: Maj. Motyl-Szary)
Members ready for the plunge -- swimming, floating and climbing into a raft. (photo credit: Maj. Motyl-Szary)
Climbing into a raft is a cooperative effort! And it's not easy. (photo credit: Maj. Motyl-Szary)