Safety is our #1 priority as we fly around the world, so we are very conscious about what gear we bring to stay safe, happy and healthy.
#1 - A Survival Kit
A survival kit is essential in any airplane. It's what we rely on in case of an emergency, or if anything goes wrong. While a general survival kit will be helpful, different climates and terrains require different gear. We are and will be flying over vastly different areas.
Taking this into account, we built a base survival kit with equipment that will work around the world. The add onto that base we are adding items as we encounter regions with specific demands. For example: we carry water purification tablets that are rated to work in the Amazon, but once we got to the jungle we added a machete and some other sheltering equipment.
(Note - survival kit is kept in a waterproof, durable bag, near the exits of the plane so it can easily be grabbed while ditching)
TIP: Test all your survival equipment before packing it. If anything happens you don't want to find that 1) the equipment doesn't work or 2) you don't know how to use it. Another important thing is to talk to local pilots about what they carry in their survival kits and what tips they have about staying safe. They know the area and the possible dangers better than anyone, so use that to your advantage to stay safe.
You can buy pre-made survival kits, but if you are going to use one I recommend tailoring it to match the region you are flying in and add in anything missing. If the plane you are flying has a large useful load, take advantage and add more than just the basics.
#2 - Tracking Devices
We carry a variety of different tracking devices while we travel not only in the air but in the ground as well.
We carry a Garmin InReach Tracker (that you might know from checking out the live tracker from our website)and PLBs (personal locator beacons). Each has an SOS button that we can press to immediately notify our emergency contacts and send out a beacon with our location. These devices will continue to transmit signals with the coordinates for hours after an emergency signal is sent out. This is all in addition to our ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter).
#3 - Life Jackets
We actually carry 7 life jackets on board, even though there's only 5 of us. Over water crossings, the pilots in the front wear horseshoe lifejackets while they fly. This way the pilots can focus on the situation and not worry about putting on a life jacket. These lifejackets have to be manually inflated to stop them from inflating prematurely. The rest of the crew in the back have lifejackets in the seat pocket in front of them.
#4 - A Raft
Not for whitewater rafting though. We carry a raft in case of emergency landings on the water! Our raft has a maximum capacity of 6 people, and is neon orange which makes it highly visible. An important note about rafts and using them in emergency situations - you must tie a rope of hold on to the raft while deploying it. If not, the wind or waves will carry your raft away. Even if you could swim and catch up to it (which is unlikely in slightly windy conditions), it wastes valuable time and energy.
Sometimes we get asked if we will be picking up a raft for when we cross from northern Canada to Greenland and Iceland, but we have been carrying a raft since day one. We have been flying by the coast, over lakes and over the Caribbean, which has lots of open water, so we always have it prepped and ready to go!
#5 - Connectivity Devices
Staying connected in more than just emergency situations is important. An IridiumGo lent to us by Iridium turns our regular phones into satellite phones so we can contact anyone from anywhere! Additionally a Skylink from Blue Sky Network allows us to have basic wifi while flying! We use these devices to update those waiting for our arrival, check weather and more!
Safety is always the #1 thing when flying locally, or doing any sort of expedition. That's it for this list, but we have so much more gear that we use to prevent emergencies and in standby to be used if there was an emergency.
For day to day updates be sure to check out our social media (@fly5inthesky on all platforms). See you next time and safe flying!