The Silver Spitfire - Sea Survival

The Silver Spitfire

It’s been my pleasure to work with a pair of real aviation adventurers recently. Matt and Steve are going to fly a completely overhauled vintage Spitfire around the world. That means they’ll have to fly over some pretty inhospitable zones with every type of climate imaginable. But what is the hardest place on earth to survive?…

The school where I’m Chief Instructor at can trace its origins back to the Battle of Britain, when the RAF’s Hurricanes and Spitfires fought the German Luftwaffe in the skies above England. Back then the RAF could replace the aircraft that were lost, but not the pilots. And even though the battle was fought in the summer, the English Channel’s waters are cold. The RAF lost 8 out of 10 pilots that were shot down over the sea; cold water kills quicker than any other environment. These days we have better clothing and life rafts for our aircrew, but you have to practise using it. And one of the Silver Spitfires pilots is no stranger to this; Steve survived a helicopter ditching off the coast of Antarctica. Wow.

So the adventurers came to the place where I work to get some training on how to survive bailing out of a Spitfire over cold water, which involved getting dragged behind a boat to simulate being pulled across the sea by a parachute.

Time for a well earned hot drink. Good luck lads, and here’s to blue skies for your trip.

Steve, Matt and John

Steve, Matt and John

Death Valley - hottest place on Earth

The bottom: ‘Badwater Basin’, 282 ft below sea level

I’m lucky enough to have done survival training in some pretty extreme places, including the driest desert on Earth in Chile’s Atacama. While I was away recently with our desert survival course I managed to visit the hottest place on our planet, Death Valley.

I took the picture on the salt flat at Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America, it’s summer days are regularly up at 120 Fahrenheit (almost 50 Celsius). Hot stuff. The air here is so dry that you can lose almost ten litres of water per day just sitting in the shade - if you could find any.

John Hudson Death Valley.jpg