This somewhat ridiculous 1963 US Air Force training film from the series “Mountain and Desert Survival,” outlines principles of desert survival and procedures for promoting rescue and maintaining personnel health and comfort. The film opens with scenes of the hostile desert, with its bleak landscape and oppressive heat. At 1:32, an airplane is seen on fire and the pilot ejects (apparently this is real footage of an accident) followed at 1:46 with a process shot of a pilot in a parachute. As he descends the pilot attempts to spot terrain which might offer some shade and protection. At 2:24, the pilot is dazed from his landing, but apparently intact. From this point forward the pilot will struggle to survive until he can be rescued. At 6:40 the pilot drinks water from the survival kit, dons a hat, binds his injured knee and at 7:29, the pilot pulls his rubber survival raft along with him into the desert. At 9:13 he builds an improvised shelter using his parachute. At 13:00 he examines a survival booklet and learns that his odds of survival are not good unless he can find water. At 17:00, he places brush so that he can light a signal fire. At 17;20, he looks at a barrel cactus and considers cutting it open for water. At 18:58, he digs for water in a dry stream bed, but after digging 3′ he finds no water. At 20:40, he tries to kill a rattle snake for food. At 21:00, he retrieves the barrel cactus by kicking it over. At 21:48 he cleans the snake for cooking, and even salts the snake “steaks” with salt tablets. At 22:40, he opens up the barrel cactus and pulls out a piece from which he wrings some liquid. (According to the Internet, this is not recommended. “Basically, you’re ingesting a substance that your body has to process. You can drink from a barrel cactus, but only one of five varieties—the fishhook barrel—isn’t toxic.” ) At 24:00 the pilot lights his signal fire. At 25:40, the pilot makes a big “X” on the ground with rocks and brush. By 28:30, his second day, the pilot is beginning to hallucinate. At 29:00 he makes contact with air rescue using his survival radio, and lights his signal fires with flares. A rescue helicopter soon appears and the pilot’s ordeal comes to a quick end.
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