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SIDEBAR … North by Northwest

What you carry as survival gear is personal, but remember these three points and their order of relative importance:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 winter in-between.
  3. 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.

Communication with 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 with customs.