OK, I’ve got a confession to make. I’m a lucky S.O.B. Always have been and hopefully always will be. Not in every aspect of my life mind you but when it comes survival and life or death situations I always seem to come up smelling like a rose with nothing more than a few scrapes and bruises and another good story to brag about. It’s that lucky track record that’s led to my somewhat caviler attitude about aircraft survival. Oh, I carry survival equipment when ferrying aircraft around the world but the gear I bring along on these trips is usually on the light side and mostly centered on surviving an ocean ditching. When it comes to going down on land I guess I’ve always had this vision of me heroically bringing the plane down in some remote area mostly intact, climbing out unscathed and spending a few days Robinson Crusoe before being picked up. I’ve got pretty good survival skills and the gear I carry while minimal would probably get the job done. The problem is that I think I base my survival planning on a few optimistic assumptions.
Number one: I not injured in the crash. Probably a bit optimistic. I think I’m a damn good pilot, who doesn’t?, but trying to bring a plane down in the Amazon rain forest or on the Greenland ice cap in one piece would be challenging. With that in mind I’m going to have to assume that I WILL be injured in the crash and plan accordingly.
Number two: I’ll be able to get out of the plane with my survival gear. This has always been a big concern of mine and one reason I try to keep my ditch bag as small as possible. In a water landing if you can’t get out of the plane with it you’re not going to have it. I might have to start thinking about wearing a survival vest over my thick neoprene survival suit. This factor could also come into play in the event of an post crash fire. All the gear in the world does you no good if it sinks to the bottom of the ocean or burns up in a fire.
Number three: I’ll be rescued in a reasonably timely manner. This might be the case when I’m flying in the United States on an IFR flight plan but if I go down in Southeast Asia, South America or especially Africa I should expect to be on my own for a while. Most of the time I’m flying over multiple countries who don’t keep track of where I am at all and even if they knew exactly where I went down, unlikely, they probably don’t any kind of search and rescue assets to send out anyway.
with all these cheery thoughts in mind I’m going reevaluate my survival gear and make some changes. I’ll keep you all posted on my progress. Here’s a writeup in General Aviation News about another survival vest I’ve been getting some ideas from. RESCUE ME SURVIVAL VEST