(Gordon Allen's Story)
"Back in early may of 1993, my wife Raz and I were taking part in the Great Southern Air Race, an annual even 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 Bahamas, 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 winds (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 size. 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 8 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 our 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."
Vero Beach, FL
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