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“This film dramatizes the survival of the crew of a downed military aircraft in the desert. The soldiers learned methods of conserving water, providing shelter, and signaling for help. The film features Craig Stevens and is narrated by Van Heflin. National Archives Identifier: 5686919.”
US Army Air Forces Training Film TF1-3346
Originally a public domain film from the US National Archives, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and mild video noise reduction applied.
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and/or equalization (the resulting sound, though not perfect, is far less noisy than the original).
The 336th Training Group is a United States Air Force group with the mission to provide Air Force survival training. The group is located at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, with one subordinate unit at Naval Air Station Pensacola, FL, and one at Eielson Air Force Base, AK.
The unit’s historical lineage goes back to the 336th Bombardment Group which was a World War II United States Army Air Forces training organization. It served in the United States during World War II…
The 336th TG operates the U.S. Air Force Survival School. The school provides instruction in Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) training primarily to aircrew members. Instruction concentrates on the principles, techniques, and skills necessary to survive in any environment and return with honor…
A desert is a barren area of land where little precipitation occurs and consequently living conditions are hostile for plant and animal life. The lack of vegetation exposes the unprotected surface of the ground to the processes of denudation. About one third of the land surface of the world is arid or semi-arid. This includes much of the polar regions where little precipitation occurs and which are sometimes called “cold deserts”. Deserts can be classified by the amount of precipitation that falls, by the temperature that prevails, by the causes of desertification or by their geographical location.
Deserts are formed by weathering processes as large variations in temperature between day and night put strains on the rocks which consequently break in pieces. Although rain seldom occurs in deserts, there are occasional downpours…
Plants and animals living in the desert need special adaptations to survive in the harsh environment. Plants tend to be tough and wiry with small or no leaves, water-resistant cuticles and often spines to deter herbivory. Some annual plants germinate, bloom and die in the course of a few weeks after rainfall while other long-lived plants survive for years and have deep root systems able to tap underground moisture. Animals need to keep cool and find enough food and water to survive. Many are nocturnal and stay in the shade or underground during the heat of the day. They tend to be efficient at conserving water, extracting most of their needs from their food and concentrating their urine. Some animals remain in a state of dormancy for long periods, ready to become active again when the rare rains fall. They then reproduce rapidly while conditions are favorable before returning to dormancy.
People have struggled to live in deserts and the surrounding semi-arid lands for millennia. Nomads have moved their flocks and herds to wherever grazing is available and oases have provided opportunities for a more settled way of life. The cultivation of semi-arid regions encourages erosion of soil and is one of the causes of increased desertification. Desert farming is possible with the aid of irrigation and the Imperial Valley in California provides an example of how previously barren land can be made productive by the import of water from an outside source. Many trade routes have been forged across deserts, especially across the Sahara Desert, and traditionally were used by caravans of camels carrying salt, gold, ivory and other goods. Large numbers of slaves were also taken northwards across the Sahara. Some mineral extraction also takes place in deserts and the uninterrupted sunlight gives potential for the capture of large quantities of solar energy…