owever, after an accident or forced landing by a plane or a helicopter and in accordance with the possibilities of subsistence, medical aid or first aid necessities, it is always convenient to stay close to the wrecked aircraft or in the close area since it is so much easier to find an aircraft than people. The wrecked plane or one with mechanical problems will emit a radio signal which makes it fairly easy for rescue planes and helicopters to find it by quickly locating the area where the accident took place. This signal is emitted up to 48 hours after the accident took place. It is also true that it is much easier to spot an aircraft than people, both because of the size and also because of the shiny parts and reflexes of the sun on its fuselage.
It is very important to make the rescue plane or helicopter notice that there are survivors, because this will allow for help to arrive faster, and also with medical help when needed.
The most efficient means to signal the rescue plane or helicopter that there are survivors are through the following means:
By reflecting sunlight with mirrors, cans or tins or nay other material that will reflect the sunlight and using the Morse code.
If close to a river with beaches or any other open areas one should use the geometric Land to Air signals.
By waving pieces of clothing or other cloths, preferably with bright colours.
By lighting signal fires in regular patterns and producing black smoke.
By using Bengal emergency flares or signal rockets, when available.
a) By reflecting sunlight.
Reflecting sunlight is best used for transmitting SOS signals by Morse code. The Morse code is an international code and is based on the letters of the alphabet, which are represented by dots and dashes or bursts of light. When using a mirror, tin or can or any other reflecting material scavenged from the wreck, the dots and dashes can be shown through the moving of the reflective material, a fast movement would indicate a dot and a slow movement would indicate a dash. The conventional SOS distress signal would be carried out by first making three fast movements and the three slow movements and followed again by three fast movements, i.e. ... --- ... (See the Morse alphabet).
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b) By geometric Land to Air signals.
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On the beaches of the rivers or in any other open spaces the geometric Land to Air signals, also known as Scout signals, are very noticeable and easy to spot from a rescue airplane or helicopter, and on top of that by the type of coded signals that you make (see chart below) you can send urgent messages to and that may turn out to be decisive.
These signals are very simple and are internationally known and are to be placed at distances of each 10, 20, 60 or 100 metres according to the terrain, depending if one wants them to be seen at a higher altitude. (See Drawing 4 a)
Drawing 4 a
Yes/No/We need compass or map/Show us the way/We are going in that direction/Everybody OK/We need Balija/We need first aid/Very damaged aircraft/We do not understand/We need a doctor/We will try to take off/We need firearms/You can land here/We cannot go on/We need gasoline/We need mechanical aid/We need food and water.
In open areas and those with little forest cover it is very useful to wave pieces of clothing or pieces of cloth in bright colours, especially reds and yellows which stand out in a sharp contrast to the predominant greenery of the Rain Forest. Tie them to poles and wave them back and forth as you would a flag, even when walking in not too dense forest cover, since they are easily distinguished, especially by rescue helicopters.
It is also very useful to help rescue aircraft locate you to make signal fires, preferably with black smoke using the tires of the aircraft once the fire is burning. The best way is to do it in regular patterns or distances but always as close as possible to the wrecked aircraft and or group of survivors.
Just as a foot note it is very useful to know that in an aircraft accident, especially in a helicopter crash, the most probable thing is that most, if not all people aboard will come out alive from the accident and the reason for this is that if the helicopter shows engine troubles during its flight and the engines stop, it will a float down towards the ground in a so called auto gyro movement, i.e. the helicopter blades will rotate on their own at a constant speed and will allow for a constant relatively low speed vertical descent. The brunt of the fall will be taken up by the tree tops and even when falling on open ground, with no power lines or others that may make it turn over on its back and thus the possibilities of saving ones life or only suffering light injuries are quite good.
If you light three signal fires, make sure you locate them at the points of a triangle and if you make four signal fires, place them at the corners of a square. You should try to produce black smoke, for which you can burn the aircraft tires. Usually when one spots smoke from the air in the Rain Forest, this is usually of a white colour because of the water vapour given off when slash and burn farmers clear land, but if the smoke is totally black the people in the rescue airplanes and rescue helicopters will take immediate notice and see that there is something out of the normal, thus allowing for a faster response in accidents. (See Drawing 4 b).
Drawing 4 b
e) Bengal Flares and Distress Signal Rockets
In all airplanes and helicopters there is a box with emergency equipment in the case of accidents, and in there you will usually find, apart from other useful things in the Rain Forest, Bengal flares of two colours. These Bengal flares should ONLY be used when one can hear or see a nearby rescue airplane or rescue helicopter, since they will only last a short time in the air before they burn out. Shoot them off when you can clearly hear the sound of the rescue aircraft. (See Drawing 4 c).
Drawing 4 c