After numerous requests to cover the different flight gear that I personally carry, I have added this blog! Apologies if this is long, but it’s a lot of gear!
Since I do two distinct roles, HEMS and Rescue, as the Chief Aircrewman / Instructor, I have included both types of flight suits that we use (and the reasons why).
I have recently bought the Flyboys Jumbo Flight Helmet Bag (around $40), as it fits comfortably my helmet and associated items that I routinely carry. I have removed tea bags, chocolate bars and old, used ear plugs from the pictures.
- SPH-5 with Maxiofacial screen and NVG lip light. The ´white´ cross on the back of the helmet is 3M diamond grade reflective tape.
- ESS Goggles (with clear / dark lenses) for operating down on the beach, if sand starts to become too much of a problem.
- Sharpie pen and a bottle of lens cleaner
- Spare gloves
- 2 ft ICS extension cord and 2 foot ICS cord with PTT switch. (I also have a 20 ft cord, but doesn’t fit in bag!) I always use a cord in case of emergency egress, as it is more likely to separate if you forget to unplug!
- The green strap is the helicopter retention lanyard. (It stops you from falling out of the door). It is 2 parts; the other being attached to the vest.
We operate 2 distinct colors: For HEMs and Rescue work (ground operations, short haul, etc.), we utilize high visibility blue. Most companies use orange, but from an aircraft point of view, there is nothing in nature that is blue. Therefore, it aides in detection far easier. When we do SAR work, instructional, or ´tactical´ stuff, we tend to wear the tan desert issue flight suits. This is due to temperatures and increased work load inside the aircraft. It also aides on the ground for the crews to rapidly identify who does what. The blue suits were designed by me to incorporate the UK style pockets / kneeboards, as well as more practical things like knee and elbow pads.
We tend to not wear full length underwear unless we are doing SAR work in the mountains and volcanoes. (It is cold at 10,500 feet with the doors off). It is a decision based on risk. For us specifically, the risk of heat injury here outweighs the risk of fire prevention. I do wear a Nomex T-shirt on a regular basis, but that’s about it.
TAC-AIR G2 Survival Vest w/Extraction Harness
This is an integrated survival vest with full body extraction harness. It has internal survival ´trays´ with a MOLLE exterior, so you can customize it how you want it.
The top part of the vest is dominated by the ALPS (Aviation Life Preserver System); a single bladder semi-automatic system that attaches to most MOLLE style vests.
The green strap is the ´Crew Specific Part´ that attaches to the helicopter retention lanyard.
Policy is to fly with the leg straps and chest connectors fastened, so that it can aid in quick rescue, if needed.
In an attempt to explain this better, I will break the vest down into the following order: “Left Side – Exterior / Interior” and then “Right Side – Interior / Exterior”. Everything is pretty much attached to the vest by lanyard to prevent loss. Hopefully this works!
LEFT SIDE – Exterior
Just visible to the left is the red beaded handle for the Benchmade J cutter pouch. This is attached to the side of a Chinook Medical IFAK pouch. At the centre is a SEA Bottle (Survival Egress Air), and then finally an Individual ´See Rescue Streamer´ (designed for emergency location use on both land and water).
Benchmade J knife – It’s so awesome that I don’t use trauma shears anymore! I made the red beaded handle myself just to aid opening.
The pull out pouch of the Chinook Medical IFAK.
- CAT Tourniquet
- 25 x 14G Chest needle
- 28Fr NPA
- Pair of gloves
- Compressed Gauze
- Trauma dressing
See Rescue streamer – It is essentially an 8 ounce, 25 foot long high visibility marker.
LEFT SIDE – Interior
Inside the chest section of the vest (both sides) are survival ´trays´. They can be removed quickly by the press stud strap you can see in the picture. One side of the tray is a zippered mesh pouch. The other side has elastic loops to store survival gear. This can be a pain getting equipment to fit, but it does prevent you from carrying too much!
The mesh zippered pocket side.
- UK MOD Survival kit
- Wire Saw
The reverse side has all items double wrapped in ´zip lock´ bags, and everything is attached by lanyard to the tray itself.
- Survival Blanket (used as a reflector rather than thermal shelter)
- Mosquito head net (doubles as fishing net)
- Lock knife
- Latex gloves
- Fire starting kit (striker, cotton wool, Fuel blocks, strips of rubber)
- Ancillary pack
The ancillary pack contains Acetaminophen, Codeine and Loratadine tablets, roll of medical tape, suture line with needle, Condoms (for water collection), Beef stock sachets, Band Aids, Tea bags (I don’t like coffee!), sugar and whitener.
RIGHT SIDE – Exterior
The less complex side is more low profile. (I am right-handed, and I sit in the right doorway, so it is less likely to snag on the airframe.) A large utility pouch, knife, and small utility pouch is basically all that’s on the right.
Large utility pouch
- Tan Fire Resistant Head over
- Blue jungle hat
- LED torch (for pre-flight inspections)
- Old glucose strip container to hold finger light.
SOG ´Revolver´knife – I keep it stowed as a saw to aid cutting through Plexiglas in emergencies.
Small utility pouch
Contents (within 2 separate green cloth cases):
- Hi-visibility Ground / Air Marker panel
- Emergency cyalume signaling device
- Firefly Pro SOLAS strobe light
- Heliograph signal mirror
I don’t carry flares. Personally, I believe they are a waste of time. I can’t get them here, anyway. Future additions will include a rescue distress laser. I would absolutely LOVE a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), however the reality here in Guatemala is A.) There is nobody equipped to receive distress information, and B.) There is nobody available to rescue us! If doing ´tactical aviation´ work, I swap the Firefly strobe for the military IR version.
RIGHT SIDE – Interior
This is exactly the same design as the left interior tray. The right side is actually quite simple! In the zippered mesh pouch, there is an orange survival sleeping bag and large plastic bag to create a water still. The other side is just 3 sachets of emergency drinking water.
I also carry (depending on where we are flying to) a larger pack in the rear of helicopter. They are essentially ´nice to have items´. It includes sleeping bag, hammock and tarp, machete, water, steel mug, etc. As mentioned previously, though – ´If it isn’t physically attached to you, you won´t have it´.
I hope that answers some of your questions!