Surviving an off-airport landing is one of five introductory mountain flying topics discussed by Loren French, with Alpine
Flight Training. His instruction begins with strategy planning to reduce risk and put as many conditions in your favor as possible. Don’t plan your route across terrain where you’d find it hard to survive one night waiting on rescue.
One situation Loren shared was a mountain rescue that took more than a day. The survivors could see the rescue aircraft overhead and made the mistake thinking the rescuers could see them. They turned the Emergency Locator Transmitter off – believing rescue was imminent. With no signal the aircraft left the area. Unfortunately, this occurred several times, as the aircraft would appear the survivors would turn the ELT off which ultimately delayed their recovery until the next day. It became an infamous game of cat and mouse. Let the ELT do its job and rescue personnel will turn it off when they’re on site.
A second story Loren shared was a training exercise in Colorado. About a dozen individuals participated in surviving one night in the Colorado Rockies. The participants were dropped in separate locations. The next day, a different rescue team was tasked with finding them. Among their survival kit supplies some had flares, flags and others a signal mirror. All of the trainees with signal mirrors were rescued. The others had difficulties in being spotted. The simple metal signal mirror wins the day – no batteries required.
A fellow pilot purchased a Personal Locator Beacon. He bought the ACR Electronics ResQLink + GPS Personal Locator Beacon. The cost is about $270. Small price for peace of mind and improving speed to rescue.
Start your flights with the proper clothing. I hope you’re not in a t-shirt, shorts and sandals. You probably have a pretty good idea about where you’re going to land but you never really know – be prepared. Determine the items you need to survive one night waiting on rescue and add a medical kit for treating basic injuries. Pre-pack those items in a go-bag that’s ready for you to grab when you leave for your flight.
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