- January 1999
- "Back in early May of 1993 my wife Raz and I were
taking part in the Great Southern Air Race, an annual event that usually
focuses on a great deal of flying through the Bahamas. We had equipped
ourselves for our water adventure with one of your rafts plus life vests.
Since, when the winds were adverse, one flies, racing, at very low altitudes
to minimize their effects, we were wearing our vests. Shortly after crossing
a timing line at West End, Grand Bahama, and embarking on our new course
for Treasure Cay, Abaco, we were shocked by the sudden silence of a catastrophic
engine failure. At an altitude of 300 feet there is very little time to
do more than hurriedly run through the appropriate check lists, pop the
door open, head into the wind (the swells were small) and touch down as
softly as possible.
- Raz had put the raft directly behind my seat where she
could readily grab it. Our plane, a Piper Lance, had only one door in the
forward area, on the right side. Raz, as soon as we came to rest, was out
of the door with the raft in hand standing on the wing almost before I
had the time to swivel my head to see how quickly and appropriately she
had reacted. At slightly less than the speed of light I joined her on the
wing, pulled the lanyard to inflate the raft, and happily joined her in
the 4-person canvas container that was going to be our quarters for the
next eight hours. During this time as we watched the rest of the air race
pass us by we began to amuse ourselves on the fly...cruise trip by talking
and playing gin rummy with a deck of cards that we first had to air dry.
I was the winner.
- As a result of the happy ending to our adventure, the
Great Southern Air Race and several other air races have amended their
race rules to make life rafts mandatory, rather than optional safety equipment.
The Survival Products raft we used in our ditching had been rented from
an FBO in Fort Pierce, FL. We have since purchased our own Survival Products
raft and make it a permanent part of the flight gear in our new airplane.
- I can honestly say that, had it not been for your raft,
I don't think I would be sitting here six years later writing this. Both
our confidence in your equipment and our debt to you are enormous."
- Gordon Allen
- Private Pilot
- Vero Beach, FL