… North by Northwest
What you carry as
survival gear is personal, but remember these three points and their
order of relative importance:
- Shelter - Whether
being stuck on barren rock in the cold arctic or on the hot open sands
of the southwest, without protection from the elements, you may not
live long enough to worry about anything else. You should have at
least a small tent, a couple of tarps, and a means of starting a fire
for warmth, and/or signaling. Don’t forget the fuel in the airplane
to get the fire going. The airplane, if somewhat intact, can be good
shelter too, stay with it regardless.
- Clothing – carry
layered clothing, including winter parka, thick gloves, full head
cover and snowmobile boots for winter; and light, but full cover,
for the summer. Additional must items would include sunglasses, and
bug and sun protection. In the north woods and the Arctic you’d better
have a bug shirt and hat in the spring and summer. Keep in mind it
can be 30C in Denver and 29C in Salt Lake City, with 400 miles of
- Nourishment –
Water is number one, more important in southern climes but you need
water even in the coldest places. Do not rely on eating snow! I usually
carry at least two gallons, and hope that more can be found. You can
live without food for many days, but without water, only a few.
A suggestion from
Mike Vivion of U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Service prompted me to buy a bright orange flotation vest, with many
pockets for small survival essentials. You might have to exit your aircraft
very quickly and all you can take is what is on your person, or what
you can grab & jerk out. Also, put high-energy food in one pack,
and other survival items (clothing, handheld, etc) in another (don't
forget spare batteries too), then secure them with a lanyard that can
be reached and jerked cleanly when you must exit quickly.
A good survival
handbook is a must have The best one I know of is, by far, the British
Army Survival Manual . WAC charts are OK, but I prefer the detail
of the VNC - VFR (Sectional) maps. At least one GPS should be a portable
that is easily grabbed (i.e. velcroed – not screwed or clamped down)
and used to pinpoint position.
the in-panel radio, a handheld and/or the fixed/portable AK-450 ELT
will allow voice transmission. Monitor 126.7 when in remote areas of
Canada and you may hear one-sided conversations between Trans-Atlantic
flights and Arctic radio. GPS units like the Garmin 195 & 295 have
"Nearest Search" features, which will give you the ARTCC
frequency for the area you are in. With this in hand plus a functioning
radio you should never be out of touch. Do not rely on a cell phone.
Other than a loud air horn, a big knife, and a can of "bear"
repellant, I carry no "weapons". Whatever else you deem necessary
for protection is up to you, just pre-declare firearms or pepper spray