ABC's over Florida swamps - Alligators need love too...

C172 — N66213 — North Perry Hollywood, FL > (practice area) — T/O, S-Turns, Turns around point, Gusty Winds, Landing — 1.2hrs

I have to say here that there are a good handful of instructors here, but the main two are the Boss and his son (the "Big Guy"). The Big Guy is my instructor and is quite savvy and quite a good at teaching the business of flying. The Boss, although a super nice guy on the ground, and hooking me up to resources I need, etc., etc, I will come to discover later is just the worst nightmare once you get him in the cockpit. More on that later.

Anyway, the wind is gusty, but the sun is not completely hidden, and I'm expecting nothing eventful on this otherwise tranquil 1hr ride out the practice area for some routine maneuvers, when quite by surprise, my instructor (Big Guy) pulls the throttle and says: "Oops, no engine. Now what?"

"Oh, I'm all over this," I said to him in my cocky attitude; "ABC's dictate first I establish a glide speed of 65kias for this C172; then find Best landing field........  Hmm, let's see now.... Best field, best field, best field....."

"Voila! That nice open area down there to left. Right in the wind, that's perfect! I'm gonna head down there...."

He asked half chunking: "Where? Down there in the swamp with the alligators?!?"

Ouch. There's a lesson I'll never forget. You gotta know the terrain you're flying over at all times, and what dangers it may offer given an engine failure. It can and should influence your choice of route to take on your course, and of course the BEST landing field given an emergency.

Florida swamps? Nice place to visit; Beyond mosquitos from hell, here's the list of the good-natured friends inhabiting the swamp awaiting my arrival: American alligator, American crocodile, Eastern indigo snake, Atlantic salt marsh water snake, Blue tail mole skink, Sand skink, Florida panther, Florida black bear, Everglades mink, Sanibel Island rice rat, Silver rice rat, Key Largo woodrat, Flatwoods salamander, Georgia blind salamander, and Fragrant prickly-apple trees.

And if I make out of there alive, then I get to make more friends with Raptors and Vultures.