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Because of its role with many basic survival necessities, you're better off in the Alaskan wilderness, or any wilderness for that matter, with a knife.
If you aren't convinced yet that knives are a cut above firearms, read the next page to learn more ways they can help you withstand the unique challenges of the Alaskan wilderness. Men have used knives for utilitarian purposes for two million years, with chipped rocks as the predecessors to today's precision blades.
People fly across the Mojave Desert, to the Bahamas, and to the southern tip of Baja California. In case you intend to fly your own airplane from the lower 48, then you will have a great training run ahead: the route across Canada, which is mostly as remote as Alaska.
Under some conditions, FAR 91.323 allows a 15 percent increase in maximum gross weight in Alaska. Even a 15-minute flight in Alaska can result in an extended stay in the bush, so always bring survival equipment unless you know for sure the required gear is provided with your aircraft (and is actually usable). Thermal blankets – Alaska only requires a wool blanket for each occupant during winter. Last, but not least, familiarize yourself with AIM, Chapter 6 Emergency Procedures, Section 2 Emergency Services Available to Pilots, and especially with part 6-2-7 Search and Rescue.
William Pass is a qualified training captain and mentor pilot for P3air and turboprop pilots.
If you were out in the Alaskan wilderness, by choice or circumstance, would you rather have a knife or a gun with you?
Since the Alaskan wilderness covers an area of more than 90,000 square miles (233,098 square kilometers), you could encounter any number of survival situations.
You can use reflective surfaces, like a large knife blade, to create a bright sunspot that you can flash three times as the international signal for rescue needed.


A number of outdoor and trekking businesses are passing those ancient skills along through knife-only survival courses. But any time you bring up flying in Alaska, people look at you like your landing gear didn’t extend. If you fly to Alaska commercially and rent an aircraft there, your first level of survival training should be your checkout flight with a professional flight instructor.
In case you bring a firearm, you should store the ammunition in a metal and waterproof case.
Montana Aeronautics conducts an excellent winter survival course that includes spending a night in an aircraft fuselage in the mountains, first aid, building a shelter, signaling, and getting water. With worldwide flight experience of more than 30 years and thousands of hours in King Airs, he has flown turboprops as charter captain, freight pilot, lifeguard and ambulance pilot, ferry pilot, chief pilot, and chief flight instructor. During the winter, you might wander over an expanse of snow and ice, and in the summertime, you're witness to greener foliage and ambling wildlife. Although a gun could certainly help you kill Alaskan predators, such as the black bears, Alaska's Department of Natural Resources warns that people with guns often hurt themselves more frequently than they do bears [source: Alaska Department of Natural Resources].
If used correctly, people can spot this type of signal from more than 10 miles away (16 kilometers) [source: Tawrell]. Many of them consist of two- or three-day hikes, when participants sometimes take only a knife in with them. What looks like a simple route to you might be a shortcut to hell and you didn’t even see it coming. In most cases, bear spray will suffice for protection and is safer to use if you’re not trained in firearm use.
At the same time, they will employ a tracking device to home in on the 121.5 MHz frequency transmitted by the PLB.


Also, grizzly bears, in particular, will usually shy away from attacking if you stand still, raise your arms and speak to the animal in a commanding voice. And unless you want to lug around a cache of ammunition, a knife will likely prove more lasting for the long haul. They aim to teach hikers how to fulfill all major survival needs with a knife -- shelter, food, fire and water. Flying in Alaska can be as fun and safe as in other remote areas as long as you haven’t lost your common sense. Plus I wear a float survival vest, since most of my gear will probably sink to the bottom of a 300-foot-deep lake.
Iridium’s constellation of 66 cross-linked low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, plus seven in-orbit spares, means truly global coverage, especially close to the Earth’s poles. A PLB comes equipped with a long-lasting lithium battery, which remains dormant until you flip the switch. But the ugly truth is that many pilots and air taxi operators violate the Alaska statute during their daily operations, due to weight and cost of the survival gear. Many Internet stores rent satellite phones cheaply and they even come with prepaid minutes.
Tip: A 911 call will be transferred to an emergency call center that then alerts the appropriate local authorities.



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