Every pilots should be prepared for emergencies, and helicopter pilots are no exception. Emergencies often happen when we least expect it-hence the nature of the word-and as such, you should prepare for one to occur every time you get on board your aircraft!
When preparing for an emergency, every pilot should keep a minimum of emergency supplies on board at all times during flight- after all, you’re better off having it and not needing it, then needing it and not having it. That’s not to say that its wise or necessary to carry around the whole kitchen sink, but a basic assortment of supplies is something you should never leave home without.
To remember what to bring, I like to use the acronym <b>OH SHIT</b>!
O- Optics. This include some sort of signaling mirror, a flashlight, and spare batteries, as well as signaling flares.
H- Heat. You should carry matches, as well as some king of stove or means of providing heat for cooking, such as a chemical heater. Bet you should also carry a sleeping bag for each passenger and an emergency blanket when temperatures are below 40 degrees. Include a tent if flying in wilderness areas.
S- Sharp Object- This includes a flexible saw, an axe with at least a 28′ long handle, and a fixed blade knife of good quality.
H- Hope. This should come in the form of a portable electronic emergency locator transmitter, with spare batteries.
I – Idiot Proof Items – Compass, prepacked meals, and sealed water bottles.
T- Thermals. This one is simple- a pair of long underwear can go a great distance when you’re stranded in the wilderness.
As you can no doubt tell, this is by no means a comprehensive list. However, these basic supplies will handle the vast majority of emergency landing situations that a helicopter pilot will find him or herself in, and allow them to survive-along with their crew and/or passengers, long enough for a rescue teams to encounter them and bring them in safely. Also, the most important thing to do is NOT PANIC. As long as you keep your head on your shoulders, and have remembered your OH SHIT! List, you’ll be just find long enough for authorities to come rescue you! Emergencies happen to the best and worst of us; the only thing you can do about them is to prepare to survive one!