"My instructor told me that in many crashes, the ELT fails to activate. Aside from having a flight plan on file, what else can I do to mitigate risk?" — Cathy O.
“It is true and if you’re worried about it, carry a survival pack in the airplane that includes a personal locator beacon (or satellite communicator).
If you’re not that worried, remember that all of us always carry one piece of powerful survival equipment: a cellphone.
These have been instrumental in pilots and passengers being quickly found after a crash if not pivotal in actual survival. So here’s my tip: make a habit of carrying the phone on your person, not in your flight bag, a seat pocket, a yoke mount or elsewhere in the airplane. It’s quite possible that after a crash, the only thing you’ll get out of the airplane with is what you’re carrying. And while it’s nice to have water, matches, and a survival blanket, what you really most want is for someone to come looking for you.
Yeah, I know, you might not have cell coverage where you happen to end up, but if you’ve got the phone handy, you can at least try rather than pawing through burning wreckage to locate it. And while we’re talking about cellphones, make sure yours has a flashlight app and any dozens of survival apps available. A lot of that stuff is free, so, why wouldn’t ya?”
Pilots are encouraged to monitor 121.5 in case of intercept as well as listening for aircraft in distress. Do you monitor 121.5 when practical?