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AIM 

6/17/21 

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 
conditions. 

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. 

REFERENCE

 

This information has been extracted from Appendix H of the “National 
Search and Rescue Manual.” 

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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 
passengers. 

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. 

REFERENCE

 

AIM, Paragraph 6

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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 

time. 

(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 
permitting). 

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Distress and Urgency Procedures