National Geographic : 1953 May
602 U. S . Air Force, Official, Capt. George O. Hambrick Airmen Stranded in the Labrador Wilderness Signal "16 OK" to a Rescue Helicopter On September 21, 1950, 16 flyers parachuted from a disabled bomber 110 miles west of Goose Bay, Labrador (page 601). Employing survival training, they built shelters, lit signal fires, and scratched a message in snow. Canadian airmen found them on the 24th; the next day helicopter pilot Hambrick, who made the photograph, removed them. A smudge fire, indicating wind direction to the pilot, smolders near paratepees. not been too hopeful. They had no idea when the plane had gone down or whether it had been on its flight plan at all. And bad weather, closing off all reconnaissance, could be expected any day. Suddenly, on Sunday afternoon, a radio message came in from a Canadian search plane: smoke signals had been sighted. At once a pararescue team was dispatched. Over the target three survival experts plummeted into space and chuted down to Thompson's men. Medical supplies, food, and other equip ment followed. Helicopter Aids in Rescue Next day a helicopter began shuttling the men to a lake 12 miles away, where a pair of amphibians picked them up and flew them back to base. What did all this prove? Not that Thomp son or his men had become accomplished outdoorsmen. Matter of fact, they had made many mistakes or omissions, not the least of which was their inexplicable failure to fish and to set gill nets. The river they were about to embark on with their raft ran in the wrong direction; it would have taken them even farther from civilization. But Thompson, whose indoctrination in survival had been limited to base-level train ing and a two-hour checkout at Goose Bay, showed that the essential principles can be quickly grasped and that their adoption can mean the difference between productive dis cipline and group collapse. He kept the energy and imagination of his crew focused upon purposeful, practical activity. He left no doubt where the leadership was vested, yet he made it plain, too, that the full co operation of each was vital to the success of all. With more training Thompson and his men could have done better. But they gave solid evidence of how far even a little knowledge can take a bunch of novices and of how much we can expect from the really well-schooled flyers we are now graduating each fortnight from Stead. Other accounts in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGA ZINE of survival training and experience include "We Survive on a Pacific Atoll," by John and Frank Craig head, January, 1948; and "They Survived at Sea," by Lt. Comdr. Samuel F. Harby, May, 1945.