Friday, August 13, 2010

Sea Survival

This is another snipit from my autobio "A bird of a different feather", that I gave to my kids

In 1965, I was an Air Force pilot being transferred to the 6485th Operations Squadron in Japan The unit principally flew Aeromedical Evacuation missions throughout the Far East. One of the first things I had to do

was to go to Sea Survival at Kisarazu, on the coast of Japan. It was an interesting course in survival equipment, procedures and techniques. It also involved a lot of "dunkings", and included being hoisted out of the water by a helicopter. The highlight of the course was 24 hours in a 20 man life raft on the open sea of the Pacific Ocean. Our group consisted of four pilots and six flight nurses. We were taken well out of sight of land and while going full speed, the boat crew threw our packaged life raft overboard. We all had to quickly chase it into the water, inflate it, and get in. After pulling the inflation cord, only one of the two inflation rings inflated. The other had a tear. This was by design, so we would get experience patching it. While swimming around the raft looking for the hole, we saw a very large fin about 100 yards away. The fin stuck out above the water a good three feet (or so it seemed). Needless to say, it didn't take us long to pile into the half inflated raft.

We had been briefed that if we had any problems, we should use the smoke and flares from the raft's kit, and the boat would come to us. Otherwise, when the boat came to pick us up we were to get the experience of using the equipment. Well, after seeing the shark and seeing our boat about a mile away and still going, we fired off all the flares and smoke. The crew on the boat obviously didn't see them, or they were preoccupied with their plans for 24 hours of fishing. The shark didn't get any of us. However it stayed around, looking us over, for 10-15 minutes and once came to within 50 yards, then disappeared from our view, if not our minds.

We eventually got around to patching the raft, putting up the canopy, and setting up our solar water stills. After a few hours, some minnows were attracted to the shadow of our raft. We considered catching some of them to use for bait, with our “survival fishing gear”. This idea was quickly dismissed because we didn't want to attract “big” fish.

We learned several things: a 20 man raft isn't big enough for ten, you can't ever get dry, it is extremely boring, your don't get any sleep, and never, never, ever ditch an airplane in the ocean.

1 comment:

  1. cbtengr50 wrote:
    But gpa, it's part of the reason you are the man you are. I for one appreciate it. Thank you for your service my friend. Did you ever get dry?
    7/27/2010 6:54 PM EDT on
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    gpabud wrote:
    I've now dried off and dried out and am about to blow away.
    7/27/2010 7:32 PM EDT on
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    Grumpyelder wrote:
    Don't think so Bud... Mrs gpa won't let you.
    7/27/2010 9:24 PM EDT on
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