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Aquatic aptitude

Boeing test pilots not only perfect their special skills in the air and on the ground, but in the water as well. They must take a water survival class each year to maintain their flight status. The tough training prepares flight crews for a mayday, or distress, scenario in which the aircraft ends up in water.

“The probability of that is very, very low, because we build very safe aircraft and it has fabulous backup systems in the event of a first-level failure or anything like that,” said Dave Desmond, a Boeing test pilot who has been flying for 28 years. “We are preparing for the worst case when we go out and do this. We certainly want to do everything we can to recover anybody that does end up in that ejection scenario.”

The training calls for students to maneuver out of difficult scenarios in the water, navigate under parachute canopies, and pull themselves into inflatable rafts to set off distress signals – all with their heavy flight gear on.

To learn more about the training, click on the video above.