Signaling Techniques - Part Two
(Adapted from the U.S. Army Survival Manual)
Spreading clothing on the ground or in the top of a tree is
another way to signal. Select articles whose color will contrast
with the natural surroundings. Arrange them in a large geometric
pattern to make them more likely to attract attention.
If you lack other means, you can use natural materials to
form a symbol or message that can be seen from the air. Build
mounds that cast shadows; you can use brush, foliage of any type,
rocks, or snow blocks.
In snow-covered areas, tramp the snow to form letters or symbols
and fill the depression with contrasting material (twigs or branches).
In sand, use boulders, vegetation, or seaweed to form a symbol
or message. In brush-covered areas, cut out patterns in the vegetation
or sear the ground. In tundra, dig trenches or turn the sod upside
In any terrain, use contrasting materials that will make the
symbols visible to the air crews.
Radios, whistles, and gunshots are some of the methods you
can use to signal your presence to rescuers.
The ranges of different radios vary depending on the altitude
of the receiving aircraft, terrain, vegetation density, weather,
battery strength, type of radio, and interference. To obtain
maximum performance from radios, use the following procedures:
Try to transmit only in clear, unobstructed terrain. Since
radios are line-of-sight communications devices, any terrain
between the radio and the receiver will block the signal.
Keep the antenna at right angles to the rescuing aircraft.
There is no signal from the tip of the antenna.
If the radio has tone capability, place it upright on a flat,
elevated surface so that you can perform other survival tasks.
Never let the antenna touch your clothing, body, foliage,
or the ground. Such contact greatly reduces the range of the
Conserve battery power. Turn the radio off when you are not
using it. Do not transmit or receive constantly. In hostile territory,
keep transmissions short to avoid enemy radio direction finding.
In cold weather, keep the battery inside your clothing when
not using the radio. Cold quickly drains the batterys power.
Do not expose the battery to extreme heat such as desert sun.
High heat may cause the battery to explode. Try to keep the
radio and battery as dry as possible, as water may destroy the
Whistles provide an excellent way for close up signaling.
In some documented cases, they have been heard up to 1.6 kilometers
away. Manufactured whistles have more range than a human whistle.
In some situations you can use firearms for signaling. Three
shots fired at distinct intervals usually indicate a distress
CODES AND SIGNALS
Now that you know how to let people know where you are, you
need to know how to give them more information. It is easier
to form one symbol than to spell out an entire message. Therefore,
learn the codes and symbols that all aircraft pilots understand.
You can use lights or flags to send an SOS - three dots, three
dashes, three dots. The SOS is the internationally recognized
distress signal in radio Morse code. A dot is a short, sharp
pulse; a dash is a longer pulse. Keep repeating the signal. When
using flags, hold flags on the left side for dashes and on the
right side for dots.
When an aircraft is close enough for the pilot to see you
clearly, use body movements or positions (Figure 19-7) to convey
Once the pilot of a fixed-wing aircraft has sighted you, he
will normally indicate he has seen you by flying low, moving
the plane, and flashing lights. Be ready to relay other messages
to the pilot once he acknowledges that he received and understood
your first message. Use a radio, if possible, to relay further
AIRCRAFT VECTORING PROCEDURES
If you can contact a friendly aircraft with a radio, guide
the pilot to your location. Use the following general format
to guide the pilot:
Call sign (if any).
Number of survivors.
Available landing sites.
Any remarks such as medical aid or other specific types of help
Steve's Notes: If there is no place for the plane
to land once it has spotted you, rescue may still be a ways away.
Continue to collect firewood and do other survival activities.
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