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2014 Winter Survival Clinic

Pilots train hard for a potential emergency landing, but what happens after they have landed the aircraft? Montana winters are far from forgiving. In the case of an emergency landing in mountainous terrain during the winter season, it is critical to have the knowledge to survive until rescuers can reach the scene.

2014 Winter Survival Clinic participants shown near the snow shelter they made 2014 Survival Clinic participants

18 individuals learned and practiced their survival skills at the Surratt Memorial Winter Survival Clinic, with instruction from three acclaimed survival experts. These experts included Dave Hoerner (MDT Aeronautics Safety Education Bureau Chief), Rod Alne (Special Forces Survival Instructor and owner of the Peak Inc. in Butte, MT), and Adam Pope (Special Forces Survival Instructor). But the clinic wasn't just for pilots; it was for anyone who needed winter survival skills. This year, we held the clinic at Homestake Lodge in Butte, MT from January 10-12.

The Clinic

The first night was spent hearing instructional talks on emergency landings and emergency medical procedures. On Saturday, the participants learned techniques on winter survival. They were then able to put these new skills to the test and spent the second night in their own survival shelter.

Participants shown learning from instructor Shawn Pope Learning survival skills in the classroom

Participating in the survival clinic allowed them to practice things such as starting a fire, building a shelter, and signaling for help. Accomplishing these tasks built confidence in how they would handle a real-life emergency winter situation. Shelter and fire are often first priorities because exposure to the harsh elements in extreme weather causes your body to lose heat faster than you can produce it.

A valuable piece of information for anyone involved in any winter survival situation is that low body temperatures can lead to hypothermia, which can leave you unable to think clearly or move well. Never leave your transportation - it is easier for rescuers to locate a vehicle or a plane than a single person who was wandered away from the site.

Learning how to create a good smoke signal Learning about Smoke Signals

The clinic's main point is very clear: The only way to give yourself the best chance to survive in an emergency winter situation is to be prepared, with both knowledge and gear. Don't assume that it's going to happen to someone else and not you - it's the times when you least expect something to happen that you find yourself unprepared.


To view the complete set of photos from this year's Winter Survival Clinic, please visit our Flickr website.

Building a show shelter Building a snow shelter
Starting a fire Starting a fire
The aircraft used at the winter survival clinic The aircraft used throughout the clinic