Ditch and flip?

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I'm a numbers guy, so I was hoping you could help me with this. I
fly a DA40 (actually, a couple DA40s since I rent) in the LA basin.
I also make occasional flights out to Catalina. I'd always assumed
that, even if I couldn't make it to land in the event of an engine
failure on my way to Catalina, that I could just set the plane down
in the Pacific and wait for the cavalry.

I've read on your site in a couple of places that flipping a plane in
water is a great way to die. I saw in your comparison of the Cirrus
and DA40 the term 'ditch and flip', as well as the comments about a
Cessna Caravan on floats. I guess my question is: if I land my DA40
in the ocean, what are the odds it will flip? And if it does, am I

Also, what do I need to do to make the odds of flipping as low as
possible? Avoid a tail strike? Keep the nose up? Thanks.

-- Justin Toner, December 23, 2010


Supposedly a typical airplane will float for about 3 minutes. The typical landing in the open ocean, even in a Caravan on floats, quite likely would result in flipping. The AIM has as good advice on ditching as you'll find, I think.

-- Philip Greenspun, January 9, 2011

I'd wonder how long a nonpressurized plane would float for, if it didn't flip.

-- Joshua Levinson, December 25, 2010

Google Amy Laboda to see if you can find an article she wrote about ditching her 210 off Florida's west coast. Didn't flip, and floated long enough for everyone to get out safely (nearby boats came to her rescue). She is a well-known aviation writer, so you might try the archives of the AOPA magazine, Plane and Pilot, etc.

Bob Gardner

-- Robert Gardner, November 2, 2011