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8 Ways To Prepare For An Overwater Flight

Many pilots avoid flying single engine aircraft over open water, but it's not always possible. If you do find yourself planning a trip over a large body of water, here are some ways to stay prepared...

1) Have Lifejackets Onboard For Everyone

While not required unless you're flying a commercial operation, it's a good idea to stock every seatback with a lifejacket for your passengers.

Swayne Martin

2) Brief Your Passengers

Before you start the engine, run through the safety information about your aircraft and give specific instructions on how and when to use life jackets, open doors, and exit the aircraft in the event of a water landing.

Swayne Martin

3) Pack Survival Equipment

Consider packing a raft with basic survival supplies for large bodies of water you cross over. Make sure the raft is easy to locate and get out of the aircraft. If you do land in the water, it won't stay on the surface long!


4) Ferrying A Plane Overseas? Wear A Dry Suit!

Pilots ferrying aircraft over the North Atlantic frequently wear dry suits to ensure they're ready for life-threatening water temperatures below.

Sarah Rovner

5) Stay Within Gliding Distance When You Can

It's always a good idea to plan your flight at an altitude that allows you to safely glide to land. Don't forget to take into account headwinds and tailwinds when making an open-water crossing.

Swayne Martin

6) Take As Much Fuel As You Can

There's nothing more worthless than fuel left in the truck if you're able to take more. Plan to fly a light payload so you can take more fuel.


7) File A Flight Plan

Filing a flight plan will allow ATC to initiate search and rescue procedures along your route of travel if something goes wrong. It's cheap insurance in the worst of cases.

Swayne Martin

8) Always Talk To ATC

If you can, make sure to request flight following or fly under IFR. Staying in communication with ATC is the best way to quickly announce yourself if something is going wrong.

Swayne Martin

What else do you do to prepare for open-water flying? Tell us in the comments below.

Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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