background image




Distress and Urgency Procedures

will touchdown with less chance of planing off into

a second uncontrolled landing. Most experienced

seaplane pilots prefer to make contact with the water

in a semi−stalled attitude, cutting power as the tail

makes contact. This technique eliminates the chance

of misjudging altitude with a resultant heavy drop in

a fully stalled condition. Care must be taken not to

drop the aircraft from too high altitude or to balloon

due to excessive speed. The altitude above water

depends on the aircraft. Over glassy smooth water, or

at night without sufficient light, it is very easy, for

even the most experienced pilots to misjudge altitude

by 50 feet or more. Under such conditions, carry

enough power to maintain nine to twelve degrees

nose up attitude, and 10 to 20 percent over stalling

speed until contact is made with the water. The proper

use of power on the approach is of great importance.

If power is available on one side only, a little power

should be used to flatten the approach; however, the

engine should not be used to such an extent that the

aircraft cannot be turned against the good engines

right down to the stall with a margin of rudder

movement available. When near the stall, sudden

application of excessive unbalanced power may

result in loss of directional control. If power is

available on one side only, a slightly higher than

normal glide approach speed should be used. This

will ensure good control and some margin of speed

after leveling off without excessive use of power. The

use of power in ditching is so important that when it

is certain that the coast cannot be reached, the pilot

should, if possible, ditch before fuel is exhausted. The

use of power in a night or instrument ditching is far

more essential than under daylight contact


1. If no power is available, a greater than normal

approach speed should be used down to the flare−out.

This speed margin will allow the glide to be broken

early and more gradually, thereby giving the pilot

time and distance to feel for the surface − decreasing

the possibility of stalling high or flying into the water.

When landing parallel to a swell system, little

difference is noted between landing on top of a crest

or in the trough. If the wings of aircraft are trimmed

to the surface of the sea rather than the horizon, there

is little need to worry about a wing hitting a swell

crest. The actual slope of a swell is very gradual. If

forced to land into a swell, touchdown should be

made just after passage of the crest. If contact is made

on the face of the swell, the aircraft may be swamped

or thrown violently into the air, dropping heavily into

the next swell. If control surfaces remain intact, the

pilot should attempt to maintain the proper nose

above the horizon attitude by rapid and positive use

of the controls.

f. After Touchdown. In most cases drift, caused

by crosswind can be ignored; the forces acting on the

aircraft after touchdown are of such magnitude that

drift will be only a secondary consideration. If the

aircraft is under good control, the “crab” may be

kicked out with rudder just prior to touchdown. This

is more important with high wing aircraft, for they are

laterally unstable on the water in a crosswind and may

roll to the side in ditching.


This information has been extracted from Appendix H of the “National

Search and Rescue Manual.”

6−3−4. Special Emergency (Air Piracy)

a. A special emergency is a condition of air piracy,

or other hostile act by a person(s) aboard an aircraft,

which threatens the safety of the aircraft or its


b. The pilot of an aircraft reporting a special

emergency condition should:

1. If circumstances permit, apply distress or

urgency radio−telephony procedures. Include the

details of the special emergency.


AIM, Paragraph 6−3−1 , Distress and Urgency Communications

2. If circumstances do not permit the use of

prescribed distress or urgency procedures, transmit:

(a) On the air/ground frequency in use at the


(b) As many as possible of the following

elements spoken distinctly and in the following order:

(1) Name of the station addressed (time and

circumstances permitting).

(2) The identification of the aircraft and

present position.

(3) The nature of the special emergency

condition and pilot intentions (circumstances