For those who don’t know, wet egress training is hands on training on how to get out of an aeroplane…underwater. Wanting to be a commercial pilot and all, I figured when the guy who does wet egress training in Canada came in to the ‘Peg, I should get in on it. For various reasons, I ended up joining last minute, but the instructor squeezed me in anyway.
Let me start by saying I am not a water person.
I’ve never had a bad experience with water. I can tread water and swim – not super fast, but I can swim. I can even hold my breath for a decent amount of time. My issue is I’m one of those unlucky people who can’t hold their breath *underwater*. Water goes up my nose and in five seconds I’m panicking. I’ve tried the humming thing, and exhaling. Nope. Apparently I’m not the only one – it’s a thing, some people’s nasal passages don’t close off when they’re holding their breath underwater. It sounds like there may be a trick for those people, and I’m thinking I might go swimming again sometime soon and try that, but as it stands, the instructor saw pretty quickly that I was having problems.
It was like my first few weeks of learning to land the plane, I suck at this, why am I having so much trouble, everyone else seems to be doing fine, etc. I could get out of the dunker, but I’d have to let go of my nose and then I’d be panicking with water down my nose and not get the PFD in the holder, even though it was right in front of me.
They suggested trying the mask, and I was like, nope. You want to put something over my face? I don’t think so. I have a thing with anything covering my face, stopping me from breathing, or for that matter, even stifling my breath. I don’t even like it if my breath is blowing on something close to my face.
Bryan was great though, he took me aside. I’m not used to getting one on one attention from an instructor. I’m not used to struggling with things. I normally just don’t bother do things I’m not good at. He talked me through getting my head in the right place. By halfway through I was okay with the mask, but I didn’t use it in the dunker, I wanted to make sure I could do that without it. By the end, I was getting out of the dunker with the PFD in hand without too much problem, just fighting through the water up my nose.
Anyway, video or it didn’t happen huh?
It was really worthwhile over all. You can have all the lectures and info in the world, and it won’t prepare you for the disorientation of being upside down underwater. I definitely feel like I have a much better shot if I ever found myself in that situation.
And it looked so easy in AIRPORT ’77…
Lol, yeah, it looks so simple, but you really don’t know how you’re going to react to being strapped down upside down underwater until you’re there.
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