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Survive: Beyond the Forced Landing

Survive: Beyond the Forced Landing


as a pilot you trained for emergencies
knowing that more often than not everything will be fine but things can
go wrong and there may come a day when an off airport landing leaves you
stranded with only the gear you have in your airplane in this video we’ll look
at a few things you can do to prepare for this challenge and help maximize
your chances of getting found quickly when it comes to survival preparedness
the regulations offer no clear guidance on what equipment you should carry in
the continental US and Canadian regulations can be interpreted
differently by different pilots regardless the burden is on you to plan
appropriately and as in most things aviation related increasing your chances
for post crash survival begins during the flight planning stage simply stated
filing and activating a flight plan both with federal agencies and friends and
family is the single best thing you can do to improve your prospects in the
event of a forest landing the consequences of not filing a flight plan
and having let’s say an engine out where you’re forced to land someplace can be
very high we will not start a search until there has been a declared missing
aircraft and that’s only going to happen when a family member or someone comes
forth to say that so-and-so didn’t make it back home for dinner and
they were and we knew that they were going to go out and fly an airplane
and then at that point it becomes detective work so it could be upwards of
48 hours before we even launch the first airplane in the event of no flight plan
and it could even be longer than that in the event of someone flying out and not
having somebody at the other end expecting them in all the cases where we found an
accident site quickly they were inevitably had a flight plan and they
were following the flight it’s the ones that go two weeks are usually missions
and with no finds at the end of which those usually the ones that there were
no flight plans or it was a case of maybe there was a flight plan but
someone didn’t follow it also if available receiving ATC flight following
enroute is a great way to keep another set of eyes on you and if you’re
qualified opening an IFR flight plan will increase your visibility to ATC and
let them know you’re out there even in areas of sparse radar coverage when
planning your trip it’s easy to think mostly about the point of departure and
the destination you look at the weather and airspace between the two but how
often do you consider the terrain along your route consider what it would be
like to make an emergency landing at any point along that path are you prepared
to spend several hours or even days in this spot what weather conditions are
expected for the next few days sometimes the answers to these questions may lead
you to slightly alter your route of flight to more closely follow a known
Road or fly closer to populated areas while this may potentially add to the
overall trip the benefit of help arriving sooner in an emergency could
outweigh the extra time and cost another balance that must be struck comes when
determining what equipment you should carry for survival situations every
pilot or passenger would probably have a different idea for the best survival
gear to have onboard but all would probably agree on the basics that are
applicable regardless of where you fly a survival kit at the very minimum should
have space blankets not only for the visibility aspect because they’re very
shiny but you know for the warmth and to you know provide some form of emergency
shelter those are very easy to pack down into a flight kit I keep two in my
flight bag at all times wherever happened to be and it’s it doesn’t take
up a lot of space how and when you’ll use each item in
your survival kit will vary but other useful considerations include a PL beat
or other satellite based communication device a signalling device such as a
battery-operated strobe light whistle and/or signal mirror items needed to
build a fire waterproof matches a lighter fire starting material a
flashlight a knife or multi-tool a length of parachute cord or other strong
and light rope snacks or store-bought energy bars a means of storing and
purifying water a portable battery pack to recharge your phone EFB or other
electronics be sure these items as well as the first aid kit are secured in a
place that is easy to reach from the door items that have been thrown to the
back of the aircraft may be inaccessible depending on how hard you come down
another idea is to keep your gear in a survival vest a post-crash fire may
force you to egress with only the clothes on your back the choice of
clothing for you and your passengers is extremely important in addition to
dressing for the weather at your point of departure or destination you should
also carry clothing for the terrain and weather you’ll encounter on route
sandals and shorts may be appropriate for your destination but not so much if
your route of flight takes you over high mountainous terrain for example you
should be prepared to spend the night in that climate if you have to land there
this means carrying extra layers of wool or synthetic clothes that will still
insulate you if they get wet often overlooked items are gloves
cold hands make any manual tasks more difficult and are the first to succumb
to frostbite opt for wool or synthetic gloves for most circumstances and if you
fly much over water neoprene we’ve actually had a pilot that died due to
hypothermia because they did not dress appropriately for the terrain they were
flying over and we’re flying over high mountains
successfully had a forced landing but searchers didn’t find this individual
for over or four or five days and they had survived with little injury the
initial landing only to die of exposure because they had no clothing
suitable for the terrain that they were happened to have wrecked at and that
that’s one thing I would brief passengers ahead of time that pretend
you have to stay overnight wherever it is you’re flying you survived a forced landing with no
signs of civilization for miles now what once you’re free from the
aircraft take stock of your situation your first priority will be to address
any medical emergencies to the best of your ability your second order of
business is to try to communicate your situation and location make sure your
ELT is on but consider it may have been damaged if your avionics are still
working you may be able to pull GPS coordinates from another idea is to use
your sectionals your paper sectionals latitude and longitude coordinates
printed along the inches that could be an argument for flying with them if only
for backup if your radios are working and it’s safe to be in the cockpit try
to reach ATC on the emergency frequency 121.5 or the last frequency you were on
with them keep in mind however that since radio signals rely mostly upon
line of sight communication there is a good chance that trees or other terrain
features may block the signal and handheld transceivers while better than
nothing have limited range on the ground GPS communication methods such as a
satellite phone work better here if you have a PLB activated if you have a
battery-operated strobe light keep that near you you’ll want to turn that on
quickly if you hear airplanes overhead or other signs of a search party lastly
try your cell phone and don’t be afraid to move around the airplane in a short
distance to find the best signal you can even if you can’t get a signal out cell
towers will continually try to ping your phone and this information can be very
useful to search and rescue personnel keep your spare batteries close to you
such as in an interior shirt pocket batteries lying in the cold tend to die
very quickly your body heat can significantly extend battery life most
experts agree that if you are lost don’t leave the aircraft it’s much
easier for search parties to spot the large surface area and contrast of a
downed airplane than it is an individual it’s a very
bad idea to wander away from that accident site unless you can see the
road or civilization or something that’s very close by then it’s definitely a bad
idea because more times than not we will find the accident site first and trying
to spot a person from the air is almost impossible that’s why it’s important to
be visible and to be visible means staying with an accident site with an
airplane that said if you see a clearing in an area near the airplane in which
you can lay out emergency signals such as your space blanket or build a fire by
all means do so they need to make that aircraft more visible for searchers in
the air if at all possible with space blankets with with anything at hand that
can contrast themselves in the natural environment keep in mind that the
International sign of distress is items grouped in threes in a triangular
pattern three fires three piles of rocks etc lastly the importance of a positive
attitude and the will to live cannot be overstated all of the survival equipment
and technology available will do you no good if you’ve given up hope and are
paralyzed by despair but also realize that in the best of circumstances it
will take time for the rescue operation to even begin searching for you even
with a flight plan opened it may be several hours before search and rescue
operations locate the site add to that the time it will take to scramble EMS
resources and the severity of the terrain and weather involved especially
if that weather is what forced you down the reality of the situation is that you
could spend a very long time waiting to be rescued your goal is to be as
comfortable as possible during that time there is no such thing as a routine
flight most of the pilots have found themselves in a survival situation
probably never thought of forced off-airport landing would happen to them
but it did the more you research and prepare the more ready you will be if it
happens to you every survival situation is different and we can’t possibly cover
them all here but there are some steps you can take that will improve your
chances always file and open a flight plan and obtain ATC flight following pay
closer attention to your route of travel and consider the terrain you’re flying
over not just the airspace you’re flying through carry a survival kit with extra
clothing a space blanket signalling devices and a GPS enabled communication
location device at a minimum always be learning enroll in a first aid course or
take a survival course to practice skills you hope never to need for more
information a list of survival resources including the survive beyond the forced
landing downloadable PDF can be found on the AOPA Air Safety Institute website at
WWF – Institute org slash spotlight slash survival

34 thoughts on “Survive: Beyond the Forced Landing”

  1. Great hints and tips for survival beyond a forced landing. Not covered by official pilot training, we need this!

  2. AOPA ASF keeps it real in the sky and on the ground. Consistent high quality training equals greater pilot-survivability.

    #Aviation  

  3. Excellent video, really well made! Glad to see Joe Vasquez representing Civil Air Patrol, which conducts inland search and rescue for aircraft in the U.S.
    All of us volunteers at Civil Air Patrol are always looking for pilots, and others interested in aviation, to join our search and rescue team. For more information see gocivilairpatrol.com

  4. Very Good Video !! I have a few ideas to add if I may … The video mentioned the sectional chart, which I feel every pilot should have aboard the plane. Jot those lat's & lon's down then dip the chart in residual fuel or oil and light that chart up if safe to do so, it will start with a minimal spark . Possibly use the plane battery and two long strands of wire to arc
    together in a quick fashion . Don't forget about interior panels and seat cushions for fuel.
    Most ELT devices have a port for a mic to connect , even though the terrain may be harsh, most of these can be picked up by a satellite or other flying aircraft overhead . Always good to have a generic cheap hand mic available .
    I'm what you may call a "chicken" pilot , however I strictly agree with the commentator about following roads , also rivers (which usually have fields along them ) and railroads (again fields are usually close by ). Even if it cost me a few minutes or a few more gallons.
    Us pilots have flown and studied ,we are a group that's less than one tenth of one percent of the worlds population , with a few exceptions, we are a bright and smart group of people . We need to know our personal minimums , manage our fuel, and above all … know when to say "it's a hangar flying day" when weather is working against our best interest . I hope these comments help at least one person to fly the next day !!

  5. This is really some Grade A material. It's very easy for those of us that fly multiengine, high-performance airplanes to really get into that "it won't happen to me" mentality. It can happen to anyone, and we all need to make sure we're ready for it if that day comes. Keep the videos coming!

  6. Good video. It's easy to tell that it's made in Canada because the real and simulated emergencies occur in cold weather. 🙂
    Consider a desert landing which, if successful, requires a lot of onboard water. For example, in the U.S. one would likely survive a landing on a salt sink in the Great Basin, but would die in hours without water in the summer. Carrying gallon jugs is not a good idea because in a crash these can be dangerous and are more prone to breaking. Small, thick-skinned 500 ml water bottles are preferred. Know how much water it takes to stay alive per unit time in 100F plus (38C) conditions. Shade from the sun is important too.

  7. One item I would never think to include, as a non-smoker is a carton of cigarettes. These can come in handy for two reasons. First, tobacco has excellent antibiotic properties (used topically) and can help stop bleeding. The other thing you might need cigarettes for is if you have a passenger who is a smoker. Having someone around who has just been in a plane crash and now must quit smoking for want of cigarettes is not going to be very pleasant.

  8. A lifesaving mobile phone tip. Your network might not have coverage in the area you are in. If you take the sim card out then call 112 for emergency ALL operators will pass the call through. So you can make an emergency call even without the simcard. (Works all over Europe)

  9. If you are at the point where you know you will have to perform a forced landing, would it be feasible to take a snapshot of the GPS screen & lat/log with a cell phone before you get close to terrain?

  10. Awesome video but it omitted a critical equipment item for a waiting period of many hours or multiple days – toilet tissue.

  11. I did six years of Scouts and would love this survival challenge. Scouts can also probably help us old folks – you might check with your local troop to see if they need assistant scout masters or other volunteers.

  12. Good advice. One may have to be creative; "The Complete Book of Sky Sports" tells of a fellow who landed in the mountains. That night he built and fire and the rescuers in the valley sighted on it, following that line to reach him in the morning. One "signaling device" that could be very helpful is a mirror, especially if one goes down in the ocean. Spotting a raft or swimmer from the air can be very difficult.

  13. This is all pretty good advice if you were able to extricate yourself from the wreckage. What about a situation where you're flying a RV-12 for example or some other type of aircraft that has a bubble canopy? What if you make a forced Landing and the plane flips upside down? How do you escape from the plane? I've made a habit of carrying a pocket knife that has a serrated blade. I know that Air Force Pilots especially Canadians, carry a similar type of knife with the intent of breaking through plexiglass and cutting through sheet metal if needed. Has aopa considered creating a video on how to escape from the wreckage or help others to escape from wreckage?

  14. Great video, For long trips over mountains I also carry a bottle of water, fishing hooks and line, a tent for two, medical kit, a pair of warm socks, long johns and a firearm, for protection and hunting.In all only adds about 30 lbs.

  15. I know in Alaska, pilots are required by law to kerp a survival kit in their aircraft. I heard most also have a rifle or shotgun to protect themselves from dangerous wildlife.

  16. Worst case scenario: you crash and no one has located you after a week and you haven't heard any aircraft, start a forest fire. People tend to respond to massive forest fires.

  17. There are satellites that will pick up 121.50 for ELT and can give about where you are, also many planes monitor 121.50 . But having been on searches before I know it takes time to get things set up and get the search going. Unless you have told someone (ATC) that you are going down and they have you on radar you need to be ready to spend hours at best before someone finds you and if you are somewhere hard to get to it can be many hours after they find you before someone gets to you! We all hope it will never happen But! BE PREPARED FOR THE WORST AND PRAY FOR THE BEST! Is what I try to do. NOT EASY

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