"I want to fly with a survival kit, but I’m tight on space. What are the bare essentials for summer and winter?" — Stephen Z.
“The must-haves can be in two locations. The first is on you. Wear a jacket or vest that can hold your cell phone, small flashlight, a small signaling device like a mirror, a whistle, and a pocket knife or seat belt cutter. If you’re trapped inside the aircraft, you’ll first need a way to get out of the seatbelt, then through a door or window. The knife or cutter can also be used to break a latch or window to get out.
If you don’t have a GPS-enabled ELT, add a personal locator beacon. These are compact, reasonably priced, super-accurate in pinpointing your location, and can be a backup should the aircraft ELT fail. Then put a handheld radio in the cockpit pocket next to you or even in the jacket. Any transmission on CTAF or 121.5, even from the ground, can help another aircraft locate you.
On the right seat or just behind it, stash a small backpack. Not camo; make it blaze orange or pink. It’ll be easier for you to locate in the dark and make you more visible if outside. The pack can hold items like a canteen of water, energy bars, firestarters, a first-aid kit, and your choice of a space blanket, a large trash bag, or extra clothing. A night outdoors can be chilly in some regions, even in the summer and especially if it rains.
For summer, add in bug spray, a foldable brimmed hat, and a small tube of sunscreen. For winter, have a wind-resistant, neon-colored hooded coat with a good hat and mittens. Add in disposable hand warmers. Even if you only fly locally, it can take a while to locate downed aircraft. So carry what you’d want to have if you ever had to wait a few hours until help arrives.”
Do you carry survival gear?