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Old 07-12-2016, 02:57 PM
RyanS RyanS is offline
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Darwin, MN
Posts: 70
Default Passenger choking while eating ? Heimlich Maneuver in an RV

Nothing gets your attention like seeing your child struggle to breathe. My son (7 years old) and I were on a 2 hour 10 minute cross county recently in our RV-9A. About an hour into the flight, while cruising with the autopilot on at about 8000? AGL, he told me he was hungry. I remembered a protein bar I had packed. I pulled it out and instructed him to break off ?pea-sized? pieces and eat them. What could go wrong?

A couple minutes later, I looked over and saw a distressed face looking slightly downward towards his knees. I asked, ?Are you OK?? He looked at me, very frightened and wiggled his head. ?Can you breathe?!? He shook his head side-to-side.

I immediately unhooked his seatbelt and pulled him onto my lap. I gave a quick thrust to his abdomen and then heard him speak. It was the most relieving words ever, ?Dad, I don?t have my seatbelt on!?

We were both very thankful this event turned out the way it did.

Reflecting back, I?m constantly monitoring my position on ForeFlight, so I knew the nearest airport. But, here are a few other thoughts I took away from that flight:

1. NO EATING IN THE AIRPLANE. EVER. Not even a bite. If we?re hungry, we?ll land.
2. Know the quickest safe way to get your airplane on the ground, without compounding the problem.
3. Keep on a radio frequency that can best help you in an emergency. If it?s an option, consider keeping 121.5 dialed in on your #2 radio.

Blue skies!
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Old 07-12-2016, 03:01 PM
Infidel's Avatar
Infidel Infidel is offline
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: WV22
Posts: 849

Glad to read this had a good outcome and he was sitting beside you and he was accessible. Way to go Dad! 👍🏻
RV-4 0320\D3G 160, Whirlwind 200GA 70".
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Old 07-12-2016, 03:20 PM
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RV7Guy RV7Guy is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Chandler, AZ
Posts: 3,000
Default Guilty

I think all of us are guilty of eating while flying, especially on long cross country flights. I usually have some fruit, a sandwich and other snacks on board.

Glad it worked out. For some of us, all we need to do is land to knock a blockage loose:roll eyes:

Good work!!!
Darwin N. Barrie
Chandler AZ
RV-7 N717EE-Flying (Sold)
RV-7 N717AZ Painted and Complete
2021 Gold Lindy Grand Champion Kit Plane
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Old 07-12-2016, 04:05 PM
ChuckGant's Avatar
ChuckGant ChuckGant is offline
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Collierville, TN (M41)
Posts: 129

I choked on a sandwich one day while flying a KingAir 350 over the Persian Gulf. Fortunately I was able to get out of the seat and save myself. The other pilot had no idea what I was doing, and then laughed at me when I climbed back into the seat. Sometimes Marines can be jerks

I am very happy that you were able to help your son. You are correct, a little plane is not a great place to be eating.
RV7 - N533CV
Based at Holly Springs, MS (M41), near Memphis, TN

The clouds beckon. I must go fly.
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Old 07-12-2016, 04:05 PM
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flightlogic flightlogic is offline
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Prescott, AZ
Posts: 1,674
Default timely action

One of my flight students is a plastic surgeon. He won't even chew gum inflight. Said the choking hazard is a concern.
Glad you dealt with it. Oxygen to the brain is so critical, that I am afraid the nearest airport, the best frequency etc... asking for help is all pointless.
Getting the airway open, as you did... saved his life.
Some dual instruction from a medical source is prudent too. Most of us are equipped with oxygen onboard and nasal canulas. A mask is usually part of the kit... but not used until 18K ft.
In a medical emergency... putting a mask on a patient and cranking full flow just might prevent brain damage, until you can get more assistance.
"Kindness is never a bad plan."

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Last edited by flightlogic : 07-12-2016 at 04:06 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 07-12-2016, 04:07 PM
StuBob StuBob is offline
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Indianapolis, IN
Posts: 258

Might've been a much different story in an RV-4 or -8!

Glad it turned out well.
Stu F.
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Old 07-12-2016, 06:39 PM
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Caveman Caveman is offline
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 685
Default Bad memory

Boy this story brought back a bad memory. Back in the late 90's the wife and I took our Cherokee on vacation. We spent a day and night in Sante Fe, then headed for Sedona and the Grand Canyon. About a third of the way to Sedona, the wife pops one of those red striped peppermint candies like you get at Sonic Drive-in's into her mouth. A few minutes later she started coughing and gagging. It got real serious real quick. We were in the middle of nowhere with nothing below us but the I 40 interstate and its median. I started losing altitude and tuned to 121.5. The look on her face was scary. She bent forward in her coughing attack and I hit her hard on the back a few times and fortunately the offending culprit was dislodged. We didn't eat in the airplane for a long time afterwards.
Thanks for posting and reminding us that little things can become a big problem while airborne.

Joe Schneider
RV-7, IO-360, BA Hartzell, N847CR
Flying since 2008
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Old 07-12-2016, 08:29 PM
Russ McCutcheon's Avatar
Russ McCutcheon Russ McCutcheon is offline
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Vancouver, WA USA
Posts: 911

I?m sure happy this turned out ok!!! I fly an RV-4 and no one has ever eaten in it on my watch, a side by side would be better but you?re lucky this was a child, helping a full grown man would be a problem.
Russ McCutcheon
@rv4welder on Facebook
We build many of your RV weldments.
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Old 07-12-2016, 09:52 PM
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wirejock wirejock is offline
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Estes Park, CO
Posts: 4,758
Default Choking

Way to go! Glad all is well.

Just an FYI for VAF.
Last first aid training, 2015, the recommendation was back slaps before the Heimlick.
Larry Larson
Estes Park, CO
wirejock at yahoo dot com
Donated 01/01/2021, plus a little extra.
RV-7A #73391, N511RV reserved (2,000+ hours)
Empennage, wings, fuse, finishing kit, now FWF
I cannot be, nor will I be, held responsible if you try to do the same things I do and it does not work and/or causes you loss, injury, or even death in the process.
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Old 07-13-2016, 12:06 AM
waterboy2110 waterboy2110 is offline
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 247

I've thought about this often. I may have food in the plane but I can't bring myself to eating while flying. Most of the time I'm alone so there's no way to get the help you'll need. Until the RV is flying I'm in a 152 so even with a passenger the hymnic isn't an option. I thought I was just being paranoid but after reading this I guess I was being a good pilot.
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