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STRAPPED INTO A SINKING HELICOPTER (with U.S. Marines) – Smarter Every Day 201

September 6, 2019


(helicopter flying) (alarm systems beeping) – [Instructor] Ditching,
ditching, ditching. (water rushing) – So, I’m alive. (laughs) All right, here’s the deal. My last mission as a U.S.
government civil servant was in a helicopter off
the coast of Hawaii. We’ll learn about that
in a future episode, but this video’s different. This is not like Destin’s
going to go explore a thing and make an internet video about it, this is an actual training scenario that I was assigned,
and I had to go through in order to get certified
to accomplish my mission. Let’s think about an
airplane crash in water. When an airplane lands on the water, you got these two long wings on the side that kind of serve as pontoons, and they keep the airplane upright. Up is up, down is down. You usually see on the news where people are walking
out over the wings and they’re waiting on
boats to pick them up, and stuff like that. Helicopters are different, in a helicopter you’ve got these heavy engines up top, and no matter what, if you
land that engine weight is going to cause the
helicopter to flip over and you’re going to start to sink. The point of this training
is to survive that scenario, and marines go through it all the time. People at off-shore oil
rigs, this is an important piece of training that will save lives. This is my instructor, Corey Catlett. He’s trained helicopter pilots for years supporting oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, but today he’s training me along with a class of young U.S. marines. Training started off dead
serious right out of the gate. They show us a fatal helicopter crash and explain the
environment that the people inside the helicopter are going through. After that, Corey explained the techniques and equipment that you would use to get out of a situation like this. For example, he explained this thing called the “rodeo grip” and how you have to anchor yourself to the seat. He explained how it’s important to exhale all the way to the surface of the water so that your lungs don’t explode when you’re rising up and
you’ve got Boyle’s law going on. It’s a very serious environment, and you have to use
science, and knowledge, and understanding to get out of it safely. We took an exam to make sure we understood everything he was talking about, and then the next day at sunrise
we headed off to the pool. Are you guys nervous? – Oh, no we’re good. (marines laughing) – [Destin] You’re good? – Yeah. – [Destin] I feel like
everybody’s acting like you’re not nervous but you’re all nervous. – My philosophy is that you all
gotta die some time or later and I guess this is the time to do it. (laughing) – I can’t swim. – [Destin] You can’t swim at all? Can I get a show of
hands of who can’t swim? – We got somebody that can’t swim? (Destin laughing) You can’t swim? – Not really. – [Destin] So you guys are not
allowed to be buddies, right? Because one of you, that’s awesome. So are you scared? – Eh, terrified. – Okay, so I’m gonna get to get in that. Which is a little
intimidating if I’m honest. Well before they strap
you into a helicopter you first have to learn how
to be upside down underwater, and let water flood your sinuses. When you first get in this tipping device the tasks are pretty simple. The first thing you do is grab the seat between your legs in what’s
called the rodeo grip, and then you find the exit, grab it, unbuckle your seatbelt,
and then pull yourself out. After you get good with that, they make it a little bit more
difficult by adding a hatch that you had to break free of, and then eventually they
add the full regulator, so you’re breathing before you exit. – I didn’t know we were gonna do this, I thought we were actually
going to get right in. – I didn’t either. – I’m kinda glad they’re
actually taking steps to actually show us how to
do all these little things before we actually go to the helicopter. – Yeah it’s like crawl,
walk, run isn’t it? I’ve got to be honest about this part. I have an Advanced Open
Water Scuba Certification, so I’m used to breathing off a regulator. So, while the marines were over there learning how to breathe off a
regulator for the first time, I thought I was just gonna
walk up and flip upside down, and breathe naturally, and
it wasn’t gonna be a problem. I was very wrong. Every time I’ve ever been scuba diving I’ve had this type of mask
on that covers your nose. The problem is when you
don’t have that mask on, and you flip upside down, water floods into your nose
and fills your sinuses, and the last thing your body wants to do in that moment in time is take a breath. He was holding me down there
and encouraging me to breathe, which was challenging
because I had to overcome my mental fear of inhaling water, while at the same time
clearing a regulator and taking a life-giving breath. This was the hardest part
of the training for me. (Destin coughing up water) – It sucks getting all the
water up the nose, right? (Destin laughing) – It’s worse than I thought. It’s the nose thing isn’t it. – It is, and that’s what gets people to push that panic button. – [Destin] This is the simulator. It contains every escape
hatch that’s common on Marine Corps aircraft,
and it’s super intimidating. Everybody here’s trying
to be tough and all, but it’s a helicopter going underwater. It’s pretty intimidating. – Ditching, ditching, ditching. (machine whirring) (water splashing) – Holy cow. The first dunk is the craziest. Because everybody’s freaking
out just a little bit. For example, you can see this marine right here has lost his bearings. He’s out of his seat, he’s turned around, he’s no longer got his reference point. Everything gets so chaotic
that the safety diver ditches my camera to swim
in and start saving people. – Yeah only one passed on that one. They lost reference points. They ended up releasing
their seat belts first and then trying to get their flack off, and it’s just like a
loose sock in the dryer. If you don’t put your butt
in the seat what happens? – You get lost, and I got lost. – Yeah, you get lost. Think about walking through your house with everything upside down, you’re not gonna know
where the doorways are, you’re not gonna know where anything is. – By the way, think about
what these instructors are going through on every run. They have to look and be aware
of everything that’s going on in the midst of this crazy environment, find out the person that’s in trouble, figure out how to help
them, and do it quickly. And if they don’t do that somebody could be injured or even die. This is a serious job
for these instructors. (Marines cheering) – Calm yourselves and focus
on what we’re doing here. We’re trying to keep you alive if you crash at sea, right? So focus on that. – It’s a pretty serious job you have here. – Well, it’s high-risk training. There’s a chance of death, huh? In high risk training. Hey the diver’s are ready! – [Instructor] Ditching,
ditching, ditching. – [Yellow shirt instructor] Ditch-ing! (machines whirring) – Because you’re just
watching this on video it’s really hard to explain how completely disorienting this is. Everything that was sinking
now seems like it’s floating. Your bubbles are going
the wrong direction. Your feet are coming
up over the top of you. For example, watch this simulator reset and watch what the seat
buckles do in the water. Your reference frame is rotating, okay. So if you watch this
you can understand it. But imagine trying to understand that while your blind, doing a
coordinate transformation in your head while at the same
time you’re getting a swirly and your sinuses are filled with water. So if you can do that,
you’re gonna be great. (laughing) – You unbuckle, your body will
right itself to the surface. Your lungs are full of air. And when you do that in
an upside down aircraft, oh no now everything’s upside down. It’s hard to imagine on how
to get out of that thing. It’s better to stay inverted with it. When you go under water,
your vision drops to 2200, or worse, muddy waters, it’s dark, it’s late at night,
you can’t see anything. So sitting in a seat
you know where you are. If you’re sitting in a seat
you know exactly where you are. And then we tell them,
“Hey don’t just pop loose and pull yourself along, stay in the seat, slide in the seat.” Because the aircrafts
are all set up with seats with their backs to the wall
where the exits are, right? So if you’re in a seat you
kind of know where you’re at. You know of know which
way, “Oh it’s to my right.” Even though it’s muddy,
I can go to my right about five seats down and I should be able to feel on the wall and
find my exit, right? If you leave the seat,
you’ll go right side up. And then it’s like, “Oh no.” Now their chairs are
hanging from the ceiling. It’s disorienting. – [Destin] Once you lose
that frame of reference it’s hard to get it back. – It’s not impossible to find your way out if that happens, but it’s harder. – [Destin] On the second
dunk people tend to be a little bit more serious about not dying. If the first dunk is about panic, the second dunk is about staying calm and learning to take your time and think. – [Instructor] Okay guys,
now that you’ve got air it gives you a little bit of
time to get out, stay calm. I want to see at least two breaths of air before you start trying to get out. Ditching, ditching, ditching! – [Destin] The next few runs they give you a bottle, which seems like it would solve all your problems, but it doesn’t. I know it’s hard to remember, but your face is filled with
water up to your sinuses. This marine that you’re seeing, he’s having a hard time
getting that first breath because his sinuses are
full so he does the symbol asking the instructors
to help pull him out. He puts his hands on his
head and the instructors stop what they’re doing and
pull him out of the simulator. If you have that problem
again pinch your nose while you’re still in your seatbelt, take a deep breath, and
once you let go of your nose that epiglottis will be shut, and then use your hands to
get out of that helicopter. By the third run people
are starting to understand what’s going on, the trick is
to keep your reference points, think with your brain
and make it out alive. You can see here it’s way more efficient looking than the earlier runs. When you have a situation
that goes bad pretty quick, and stuff literally hits the fan, like the rotors start hitting the water, and life turns upside down, and you feel like you’re sinking, you’re in over your head,
and it’s a situation you don’t know how to deal with. Some of these guys
didn’t know how to swim. If you freak out in that moment, you’re gonna stay in that dark place. That’s literally suicide,
you cannot do that. What you have to do is
stay anchored to the truth, stay anchored to the things that you know. Keep your reference frame. For me in my life,
personally, I have things that I stay anchored to that
keep me aligned to truth. So, in that situation you do that, and then you start thinking
towards the safe exit from the situation. If you don’t react
correctly, and you don’t slow down and think, things
can go very bad in a hurry. It’s very, very important not
to freak out in the chaos. Take one decision after another, slowly thinking it through, that gets you closer
and closer to the light. And eventually, once
you do that, in a series you will make it out and you
will see the light again. I hope you enjoyed this video. It was exciting training. I felt like I learned a lot both for my work in helicopters
and for life in general. I’m Destin, you’re
getting Smarter Every Day. Have a good one, bye. (laughing) (water loudly splashing) – Help! (laughing) – [Destin] Good job dude. – Thanks! – [Destin] Yeah! – All right note to
self, swimming lessons. (laughing) To do! (laughing) – [Destin] You did good, man. – Thank you. – That was way better. – You gotta make it out of
the helicopter for this one. – Hey, in the real thing…

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