Survival Kit

Some of you have asked what to carry in a survival kit. WestWind newsletter had a lengthy article in March of 1998 and much of the following comes from that newsletter with my own additions.

In our local flying area, it is common to fly until late in the afternoon, and we fly over a very large area. We make frequent radio transmissions just to let other pilots know where we are during the day. Should we become missing, a search would not begin until just before sunset, so we assume we will spend at least one night in the woods. Our survival kit is designed to stop bleeding, keep warm and to send an electronic signal via ELT, radio, cell phone, or with the use of sound, smoke or other.

Food is probably not important for a predicted 48-hour maximum period.

First, we carry a small personal ELT, which is stored in a zippered compartment in our parachute. (Please see our web site.) I have seen others with a small pouch attached to a parachute strap. If I bail out, I want the rescue team to find me. The glider may be miles away from where I land. Further, it is unlikely an aircraft ELT mounted in the glider will go off automatically as the G forces must be in a particular direction and strength for it to go off.

An aircraft mounted ELT can have an enunciator panel so you could set off the ELT before you jump, but it is highly unlikely you would do this.

In the USA, and many other countries, most airliners listen to 121.5.

Standard ELT units transmit on 121.5 MHz. Satellites will not support this frequency after February 2009. A new ELT (COSPAS-SARSAT) unit is now available that transmits on 406 MHz and includes your GPS position for a quicker rescue. This unit is expensive now, (about $900) but the price should come down as it becomes more popular.

One idea is to wear something like a fishing vest with lots of small pockets with the survival gear in it. In case of a bailout, you would then have all the basic necessities.

Doris and I carry a small bag with the following items, stored in the baggage compartment of our glider. (East coast USA environment.)

In case of an accident where you are unable to make radio contact, search teams will not begin to look for you until the next morning. You must plan to stay at least one night. If it rains and you get wet, you will probably die from hypothermia in temperatures as high as 55 degrees F. Keeping dry is paramount. Your parachute canopy can be an important part of your kit as you can make a tent, or wrap yourself in it to keep warm.

Other items to consider