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Ask The Pilot

jb747

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Did you have any more faith in an ocean ditching in your A-4 or were you always taught to eject if that was inevitable?
Intentionally ditching an A-4 (or any similar aircraft) would effectively be suicide. You would always eject. Bang seats can cause their own issues, but you’re infinitely more likely to get to talk about it afterwards.

What about an unpowered landing on land away from an airport - i.e. using a long road?
I wouldn’t even have tried a flameout approach to a runway. Whilst you may get away with it, about the time that the outcome starts to become evident, you fall out of the bottom of the ejection envelope.

Out of interest why does being at night make an ocean ditching so less likely to lead to a good outcome? Assuming you had a perfectly working aircraft (except for the engines), would the radio altimeter and other instruments not give you enough information to pull off a good enough flare and wings-level landing to make the contact with the water similar to day time, or do you need a lot more visual clues to get it perfect enough to have a chance? I would have thought waves were the biggest threat, regardless of time of day.
Where are you getting the electricity from, to run the radar altimeter. You need the visual queues to align yourself with the wave motion. Water is incredibly deceptive with regard to judging the height. You‘re unlikely to get that right. The chance of getting a reasonable flare is minimal (even Sully didn’t manage that, he just mushed into the water when the energy ran out). Probably the best bet would be to just fly into the water at a fixed, low rate of descent. But you can’t do that without engines.
 

straitman

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I wouldn’t even have tried a flameout approach to a runway. Whilst you may get away with it, about the time that the outcome starts to become evident, you fall out of the bottom of the ejection envelope.
A good example of this difference in performance during an engine out approach. The CT4A that jb747 and I instructed on had the low key position abeam the threshold on downwind at 1500 ft AGL. I don't know about the A4 but the Mirage low key position, if you were silly enough to try, was abeam the threshold on downwind at 10,000 ft AGL.

Where are you getting the electricity from, to run the radar altimeter. You need the visual queues to align yourself with the wave motion. Water is incredibly deceptive with regard to judging the height. You‘re unlikely to get that right. The chance of getting a reasonable flare is minimal (even Sully didn’t manage that, he just mushed into the water when the energy ran out). Probably the best bet would be to just fly into the water at a fixed, low rate of descent. But you can’t do that without engines.
Slightly different but it illustrates the point. Hovering a helicopter over water without auto hover is very difficult. In September 1968 one of the RAAF SAR pilots at Williamtown took a couple of his fighter pilot mates up one night to show them that it was next to impossible to manually hover over water at night. He proved it well and truely when they all got to go swimming.
 
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