Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Surviving Disaster

Like usual, I have the TV on in the background while I am working and a show called "Surviving Disaster" just came on Spike TV. The show teaches you how to survive a variety of disasters. Today's show is on surviving a plane hijacking. Here's what I learned:
  • pay attention at the airport for suspicious people (note they don't necessarily look like Arabs).
  • check out your surroundings as you enter the plane.
  • stay sober and alert when you fly.
  • a crucial time for a hijacking is when the pilot is being handed his meal and the cockpit door is open.
  • don't seem threatening to the hijackers (ie: making eye contact, talking to them, etc).
  • you need to take action. Since 9/11 it has become clear that hijackers will probably crash the plane and kill everyone so taking the hijackers down is the course of action.
  • hijackers may have a "sleeper" embedded with the passengers who will jump in to protect the hijackers when a lone individual tries to attack them.
  • first priority, find out what their intentions are.
  • coordinate an attack with people in your immediate area (in a not obvious way).
  • communicate with simple hand gestures instead of vocally.
  • gather items that can be used as a weapon (hot coffee, a pen or keys, laptop, etc).
  • establish a diversion (ie: an alarm from your cell phone set from a few minutes later tossed forward from where you are sitting).
  • work as a team to take down the hijackers.
  • stay low and use the seats to block your from the attackers line of sight.
  • attack using 150% effort, go for the throat.
  • a "war cry" is an effective way to start the attack.
  • make a shield out of a jacket or seat cushion to block blows from the hijacker's weapons.
  • utilize prisoner handling techniques to constrain the hijackers that you have taken down.
  • keep 100% control over the prisoners. Restrain them with belts, ties, etc. then hog tie them. Gag them, cover their eyes, and make them totally unable to communicate with their comrades.
  • use cell phones to alert people to what is happening (media, Air Force, etc).
  • you need to get control of the plane from the hijacker in the cockpit.
  • if you ram the cockpit door with a very heavy cart you may be able to break into the cockpit.
  • make a plan to get into the cockpit then take immediate control of the hijacker and assign one of your team to take control of the plane and pull it out of the dive that the hijacker probably put it into when he realized you were attempting to break into the cockpit.
  • comment from the spouse about mid show: isn't this showing hijackers both how to ram their way into the cockpit and what to look for in a response from the passengers?
  • after the hijacker is incapacitated take control of the plane.
  • put on the headset and dial in 121.5 which is the emergency radio frequency to use to contact air traffic control and other pilots.
  • establish that you are not a terrorist and provide information about your flight and the situation. Follow all directions from the controllers/fighters that have been scrambled to shoot down your plane so that they will know you are the good guys and not the terrorists.
  • engage the autopilot.
  • if the pilots are still alive try to revive them to help land the plane.
  • use combat medical skills to care for the injured pilots.
  • research how to treat a sucking chest wound (too much detail to explain here).
  • focus and listen to everything you are being told by the pilot that ground control has found to help guide you to land the plane.
  • have the flight attendants prepare the passengers for a crash landing.
  • secure anything and everything that could injure people during a crash (baggage, laptops, etc).
  • some airports have the technology to automatically land large aircraft but most don't.
  • immediately get all passengers off of the aircraft after an emergency landing.

Summary: This show rocks. Two thumbs up. I could tolerate about one and a half shows of the Colony because most "survivor reality" shows make me want to gag due to the overacting of the participants in furious bids for more airtime. This is a very good "how to" show which skips all of the theatrics and gives point by point information about how to survive dangerous situations. Of course it can't cover every contingency but even an hour's worth of specific information about what could happen is quite valuable. I will definitely make it a priority to watch this show in the future which airs at 10pm on Tuesdays on Spike TV.


  1. Thanks for the review. I had wanted to see it last night but got distracted with parenting duties.

    I too got tired of The Colony. Loved the building of stuff (water filtration, wood gas generator), got tired of the drama...

    Haven't watched it since...

  2. I thought the show was a bit over the top. A few things (some for the producer)

    - The dive the plane was put into when they broke into the cockpit would have put the plane into supersonic flight which would have resulted in a breakup.

    - A single stab doesn't kill immediately (in the case of stabbing passengers).

    - I really liked when they talked about NORAD they showed a video clip from the 80's movie, "War Games". Classy. LOL

    - I dunno if you've ever been on a flight lately, but there's no drink service, etc. to the flight deck where the path to the door isn't obstructed by a service cart, etc. The break in to the flight deck was unrealistic, but done in order to facilitate their "survival situation".

    The reality is that since 9/11, you can't hijack an airplane again with Americans on board. If someone if waving a box cutter or a plastic knife in front of me, I'm gonna kick his ass along with all the males on the plane. Why not? We're dead already. Its the undeniable logic of flight 93. Nobody has attempted a hijacking since because their % of success is about as close to zero as you can get.

    I fly every week for work and have absolutely no fear of a hijacking. None. Nada. Zip.

    And trust me - my lack of fear isn't from the diligence of the TSA.

  3. David, thanks for the info...some things to think about.
    Jeauz, my thoughts exactly about The Colony.

  4. the one thing I've enjoyed with the Colony are the builds. The spark transmitter was cool as well as the AM receiver. It made me recall the fun I had as a kid building those Radio Shack electronic kits for receivers/transmitters, etc. and wish I still had those kits. Knowledge like that is key. Could you have thought of those builds and then made them work? I doubt many could.

    The drama is mostly pointless, especially given the producers are creating situations where they give the instigators an inside track on back doors, holes in security and weak points for them to mess with. Then again, they have a limited amount of time to do as much as possible, so it makes sense in the frame of the show. (realistic or not)

    I'm surprised there hasn't been more outside searching for items, but I also think the onsite handlers discourage them from activities like that unless the producers have a scenario set up for them (like the trip to the hospital). Time is working against you in those situations in real life and a treasure chest like the hospital SHOULD have been picked clean early on. I would have expected the first few days to have been a mad scurry to scour the surrounding areas for any items of use.

    Oh, and that solar tracker was badass. I would have put it on the roof and not in the courtyard, but still I really liked it. ;-)

  5. I agree with your take on the Colony. As kids we would build things--kites, forts, electrical things, but these days those skills are sadly lacking in most people (me included). If I had to be stranded with anyone from the Colony it would be John--someone who can engineer almost anything. This also points out that I (and probably most everyone else) needs to spend more time designing gadgets (more useful skill after a disaster) instead of websites (not quite as useful except in very specific instances).