When you Fail to Plan, you just Planned to Fail

Murphy’s Law of Crash Survival, part one: “When you really need a crash survival kit, you won’t have one.”  Part two of Murphy’s Law of Crash Survival is “When you don’t need it, it just sits there in your cargo compartment.” Therefore, based on the exact science of Murphy’s law, you should get yourself a survival kit so you’ll never need to use it!

Priority #1: A PLB – $250


16544How many of you have a 406 Mhz Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT)? Raise your hands. That’s what I thought; not many. Let’s start with an affordable locator that will direct Search and Rescue (SAR) to your location. It’s the ACR 2881 or 2880 ResQLink Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). It’s quick and accurate and has three levels of integrated signal technology  to quickly and efficiently send your position out to a worldwide SAR network of satellites. Just deploy the antenna and press the ON button. That’s it. ResQLink guides rescuers to within 100 meters or less of your position in the US.
With a GPS enabled PLB, SAR personnel are typically notified of your position in as little as 5 minutes.
With the 2881 or 2880, you can test the functions and verify proper operation routinely with the touch of a button. Make sure the internal electronics and GPS are properly functioning before you leave for your next cross country flight. The 2881 is waterproof to 5 Meters. Both models are small and compact with a battery life of 24+ hours @ -4 degrees F. The ACR 2881 is a slight upgrade to the 2880 because it floats.

My wife and I keep the ResQLink PLB handy in the cockpit.  If we should find ourselves in a hopeless situation and “goin’ down”, the PLB is easy to find and activate. If we crash land and are incapacitated, the PLB will have already been activated – speeding the SAR process.

Priority #2: A Survival Kit


SKX4_largeOur first choice is the GUARDIAN 4-PERSON DELUXE SURVIVAL KIT, $130. This kit lasts 5 – 7 days.





It’s available at www.livingrational.com
All items are packed securely in a Red Duffle Bag with Wheels which contains extra space for your personal items.  The kit includes the following:

Water and Food Products

48- 4oz. Water Pouches
24 – 400 Calorie Food Bars (4800 Calories)
40 Water Purification Tablets – each tablet purifies 1 liter of water
Communication Products
Am/Fm Radio with Batteries and Headphones
2- Rechargeable Squeeze Flashlight – 3 LED flashlights
30 Hour Emergency Candle
5-in-1 Survival Whistle
Box of Waterproof Matches
Shelter and Warmth
4 Emergency Survival Sleeping Bags
4 Emergency Ponchos
Tool Products
2-16 Function Knives
4- N95 Respirator Dust Masks – NIOSH approved
All of our kit items are packed securely in a resealable, waterproof storage bag
Hygiene and Sanitation
4 – Hygiene Kits
Tooth Brush
Tooth Paste
9 Wet Naps
6 Pocket Tissue Packs
Safety Goggles
Sewing Kit

First Aid Products
37 Piece Portable First Aid Kit

Entertainment and Miscellaneous Products
Deck of playing cards for entertainment
Infectious Waste Bag
Add a Signal Mirror (from Amazon.com) $5

SKXK2_large-2personYou can also buy the Guardian 2 Person Survival kit, $62.






It’s also available at www.livingrational.com. It includes:
Water and Food Products

12 – 400 Calorie Food Bars (4800 Calories)
12 – 4oz. Water Pouches
20 Water Purification Tablets – each tablet purifies 1 liter of water
Communication Products

Am/Fm Radio with Batteries and Headphones
Rechargeable Squeeze Flashlight – 3 LED flashlights
5-in-1 Survival Whistle
Box of Waterproof Matches

Shelter and Warmth

2 Emergency Survival Blankets
2 Emergency Ponchos with Hood

Tool Products

2 – N95 Respirator Dust Mask – NIOSH approved
All of our kit items are packed securely in a resealable, waterproof storage bag

Hygiene and Sanitation

6 Packets of Pocket Tissues

6 Wet Naps

First Aid Products

37 Piece First Aid Kit

Entertainment Products

Deck of Playing Cards
Add a Signal Mirror (from Amazon.com) $5
I have priced the  contents, both for the two person and four person survival kits. Unless you can buy in bulk, it will be very hard to build your own kit and beat the Guardian Survial Kit prices.


When it comes to VIP TFRs – Plan Carefully!



On October 2, 2012, about 2024 Pacific daylight time, a Piper PA-28-180 sustained substantial damage when it struck high power tension lines near the Beatty Airport (KBTY) Beatty, Nevada – about 120 miles Northwest of Las Vegas.

The sole occupant of the airplane, a commercial pilot, was seriously injured.

Visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed.

That day, the pilot departed Snohomish County Airport in Everett, Washington with three planned fuel stops en route to Henderson Executive Airport (KHND), Henderson, Nevada. He knew that there was a published VIP Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) over Las Vegas, but did not have all the facts about the TFR. He thought that he could land at KHND before the TFR would become active. At 1520, the pilot departed on the last leg of his cross country from Reno/Stead Airport (KRTS), Reno, (KHND).


Prior to departing KRTS, the pilot called the Reno Flight Service Station (FSS). Here is a synopsis of that conversation:

The pilot told the briefer that he was concerned about the Las Vegas TFR and getting into HND. He thought that he could fly into HND and that the TFR would be in effect the next day. The Reno FSS briefer advised him that the TFR was currently in effect and if he wanted to land at KHND, he would need to file the appropriate flight plan, squawk the proper code, and be in contact with ATC.

Our accident pilot if the briefer could give him the code. The briefer advised him that ATC would want to talk to him in the air and he could get the code from approach control.

Beatty3-redflagThe pilot filed a Visual Flight Rules (VFR) flight plan from KRTS to KHND, but he was still unclear on whether the TFR would prevent him from landing at HND. Air Traffic Control (ATC) could authorize transit operations through the restricted area, but would they? He really needed more information, but launched anyway.

TFR procedures require that all aircraft must be on an IFR or VFR flight plan with a discrete code assigned by an ATC facility [such as the appropriate Center or Approach Controler]. [If departing from an airport within the TFR], aircraft must be squawking this discrete code prior to departure and at all times while in the TFR.

Beatty3-redflagAfter topping off the fuel tanks, our aviator departed Reno/Stead and activated his VFR flight plan for the 320 NM flight to Henderson. For some reason, after takeoff, he chose not to contact ATC, (NorCal  Departure, 126.3). Instead, he waited until he was about 40 miles west of the Las Vegas VOR to radio  ATC.  He tried two frequencies, but was unable to make contact. Without the all important discrete transponder code, he could not proceed to the Las Vegas area and land at KHND.



Things were really headed South. He was low on fuel with darkness closing in, so, he decided that he would divert to KBTY. He initiated a straight in visual approach to runway 34 and configured the airplane for landing.


Beatty3-redflagAs he approached the airport, he saw the airport beacon but no other airport lighting, despite his attempts to activate the airfield lighting on the CTAF, most likely because KBTY was NOTAMed closed.


During the approach, the airplane struck high tension power lines about 1 mile south of the runway. The Piper Pilot most likely flew a lower than desired approach altitude due to the night time conditions and featureless terrain.


  1. All aircraft operations within the 10 NMR inner core(s), are prohibited except for: Approved law enforcement, military aircraft directly supporting the United States Secret Service (USSS) and the office of the President of the United States, approved air ambulance flights, and regularly scheduled commercial passenger and all-cargo carriers – Heck almost everything, except GA. GA pilots need not apply to enter the dreaded 10 nautical mile radius or Inner Core!
  2. All aircraft operating within the outer ring(s) are limited to aircraft arriving or departing local airfields, and workload permitting, ATC may authorize transit operations. Aircraft may not loiter. All aircraft must be on an active IFR or VFR flight plan with a discrete code assigned by an air traffic control (ATC) facility. Aircraft must be squawking the discrete code prior to departure [from an airport within the outer ring(s)] and at all times while in the TFR and must remain in two-way radio communications with ATC.

Even if our pilot could have landed safely at Beatty, his  night would have been quite interesting.  He would have found that  Beatty does not have Aviation fuel and it’s a 3.6 mile walk to the Atomic Inn. Beatty5











By simply going to http://tfr.faa.gov/tfr2/list.jsp , you can check a VIP TFR’s Beginning Date and Time and its Ending Date and Time. You can also see a graphic depiction of the TFR and read about all the procedures you must follow.


The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot’s inadequate flight planning, subsequent loss of situational awareness, and failure to maintain clearance from the power lines during a dark night approach to a closed, unlit runway.