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Zen and the art of surviving a plane crash in remote Alaskan wilderness

Colleen Mondor
Stuck in the middle of nowhere, injured and hungry? Pack along Marcel Proust's "Remembrance of Things Past," all three volumes, and make lemonade. Loren Holmes photo

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA)  has a thoughtful followup to a brief story in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner on a search for an aircraft that went missing in February of 1963.

Two passengers were aboard the single-engine Howard aircraft when it was reported missing en route to the Lower 48 from Fairbanks near the Alaska Highway in Canada. As Tom George reports on the AOPA Alaska blog, they were both found alive 49 days days later, despite suffering injuries in the crash and having precious little food. Survivor Helen Klaben wrote a book about their ordeal, which George discusses. Here’s one of his unconventional conclusions from reading her recollections, specifically her emphasis on the importance of a strong mental attitude in a survival situation:

In addition to carrying standard items like food, first-aid kit, signaling devices, and a sleeping bag in my survival gear, I include reading material to occupy the mind in the event of a forced landing.  Even in non-emergency situations, I have found it valuable to read a chapter of a book while waiting for conditions to improve to help reduce the temptation to “push the weather.” And if push comes to shove, I can always use the pages to light a fire…

Read George’s entire report on the 1963 crash and rescue.