Mental Preparation for a Water Landing

Translated from “Mentales Training

Mental Preparation for a Water Landing


Pre-flight preparation: I put my flight documents in a water-tight zipper bag. I add a sealed bag with a change of clothes and add a 30ft rope.

The Flight

After a long straight flight over inhospitable terrain without landable fields, I see the forest and several lakes. I see no fields nearby. I am still looking for a thermal, but if I find no lift, I decide to land safely in a lake nearby. I find myself at 900ft altitude. During a briefing I have learned that my glider can float for about 25m and thus I should have sufficient time to pull my glider out of the water.


I relax and focus. I am giving my exact position to my flying buddy. With a quick look at the flight computer, I determine the wind direction and speed. I will land into the wind. Very carefully I look for big boulders and other obstacles hidden under the water surface. To land, I approach the side of the lake near a road or town (not the side where there’s only forest).

I intend to land parallel to the shoreline or slightly converging (never facing the shoreline directly). The distance to the shoreline is about 60 to 90 ft. I avoid landing in the grass close to the water to avoid potentially hidden rocks.

I prepare for landing like usual.

I am on downwind and run through my checklist:

  • I tighten my seat belts
  • I lower the landing gear
  • I close the ballast
  • I close the ventilation
  • I shut off the electricity

I inhale deeply and continue downwind.

I mentally imagine my final approach, parallel to the shoreline. I check my altitude. I am approaching the water surface. My air speed is the one I am supposed to have, as low as possible (just above the yellow triangle).

I feel the wheel touching the water surface. I gently pull the stick back, at the same time, I slowly retract the air brakes. The glider brakes hard and water splashes over my canopy. Even though the cockpit has immersed in the water for a moment, I know it’ll come back up soon as it floats well. Water can get into the cockpit but it stops at wing level. All is quiet now, and everything went as expected. My glider is floating quietly on the water. I have 25 min. before me. I breathe slowly and deeply.

I check my exit:

  • I detach my seatbelt
  • I detach my parachute straps
  • I open the canopy
  • I take my documents, if I can do so now, as well as my dry clothes and 30ft rope.
  • I can sit on the back of the fuselage and prepare the rope to be attached to the winglets
  • If I can I take my clothes and document to the shore, if not I attach the rope to the winglets and pull the glider to the edge of the lake.
  • I contact my retrieve crew.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s