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Survival Equipment Requirements for Alaskan and Canadian Air Travel

As survival and adventure enthusiasts, not too long ago we choose to plan several flights from the southern United States, through Canada, and into Alaska. As we packed our Cessna, we had to make sure we packed for every possible circumstance. Both Alaska and Canada require specific survival equipment before flying in their airspace, according to government regulations. Before our trip we gathered everything, we needed, plus a few extras, but we found ourselves struggling to find exactly what we needed.

Through a great deal of shopping and research we finally had everything required: the equipment, the airplane, and our adventurous spirit. We found ourselves completely mystified by the beauty of the “Great Alaskan Wilderness”. As we few over 3,000 miles, we were shocked by how truly wild the Alaskan and Canadian wilderness truly was! After seeing the wilderness below, counted ourselves lucky for the survival equipment they required.


Flying Through Canada

Think of survival equipment as a secondary insurance policy. Although flying this terrain is considered safe, there is always a possibility of something serious happening, especially in areas where help is far away. Due to the vast expanse of unpopulated and wild terrain, Canadian authorities used to be extremely thorough in their approach to required survival equipment; however, deregulation has left rules undefined and vague. Canadian statues require the means for starting a fire; providing shelter; purifying water; and signaling distress. More information can be found at

The former regulations can be considered a guideline for all DIY survival kits. The items required were specific in terms of value and quality, for example acceptable rations are “Food having a caloric value of at least 10,000 calories per person”. They also required: cooking utensils, matches, compass, axe, flexible saw, a stove and fuel (certain conditions apply), 30 feet of snare wire, fishing equipment, a gill net, mosquito nets, tent, sleeping bags (conditions apply), snow shoes (when expecting snow), signal mirror, pyrotechnic distress signals, knife, survival manual, and a conspicuity panel (Signal Panel).

Although Canada is known for its aggressive bear population, we DO NOT recommend carrying a firearm into Canada on your trip. Canadian Customs have strict regulations regarding firearms which may cause problems for you in the future; handguns are prohibited and all long rifles must be registered. Consider carrying an airhorn or other loud noise making device instead.


Flying Through Alaskan Glacier Fields

The Alaskan state laws are more lenient and less specific compared to former Canadian regulations. Found in the AS 02.35.110 section of the Alaskan statutes, air travelers are required to carry: rations for each occupant to sustain life for one week, an axe, first aid kit, a survival fishing kit, knife, fire starter, mosquito head nets (much needed!), and two signaling devices.  They also require a set of snowshoes, a sleeping bag, and one wool blanket per occupant during winter months. There is no longer a requirement to carry a “survival” firearm. More information can be found at


Preparing to Travel

Any prudent traveler should carry at least the minimal survival equipment; enough to take care of immediate needs when rescue is far away. Although regulations are vague, it is essential to prepare for any possibility. For minimal expense, you can have a basic survival kit that could save your life.  Adventure survival equipment offers their own Alaska Aviation Survival Kit that was created in conjunction with Let’s Fly Alaska. Whether you purchase a premade survival it or make your own, remember:

  • First aid items can save your life
  • Always carry at least two signaling devices
  • Clothing, shelter, and fire provide essential heat
  • People can survive without food but water is an immediate need
  • Include a small, inexpensive survival manual, regardless of skill or knowledge


Fortune Favors the Prepared!

Information from this article was published in a copy of Cessna Owner Magazine and Piper Owner Magazine.  It is reprinted here with permission from the author.


This entry was posted on August 9, 2012 by Brian Greenlee.

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