Introlduction and new survival technology

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Introlduction and new survival technology

Posted by Andrew Meranda on Aug 16, 2018 6:43 pm

This is my first post on AOPA Hangar although I've been an AOPA member for about 29 years. In the way of an introduction I'm a commercial pilot with ASEL, ASES, Instrument, Multi-Engine and Rotorcraft/Helicopter ratings. I've owned a 1986 Maule MX-7-180 taildragger for 20 years. I work for the North Carolina Forest Service as a forestry pilot flying a 1985 Cessna A185F taildragger as a scout plane on forest fires and forest management missions.

Recently, I discovered a new piece of survival technology that pilots should know about. It's called the Sparkr Mini Plasma Lighter. For years I've carried a standard Zippo lighter in my survival vest and used AVGAS as fuel without any problem. The Zippo is a good reliable item but flints wear out and it doesn't work well in a strong wind. Here's a link to the Sparkr Mini on Amazon.com:
Sparkr Mini
This thing is amazing. It's like a high voltage stun gun that produces a small electric arcs (plasma) across the 4 electrodes in an X shape. They are unaffected by wind and hotter than a flame. It has an internal rechargeable battery the lasts a long time. I haven't tested it to see how long the battery lasts but I'm sure it depends on how much you use it. It only took a few seconds to light a twig on fire and the battery didn't seem anywhere near discharged. It also has an LED light and button on the side that you press 3 times to activate the light so that it won't activate accidentally. It comes with a short USB charging cable that can plug into a USB port on a computer or a USB-to-cigarette lighter adapter if you have a power connection in your airplane. You could also charge it from an external battery pack or even a solar charger. It seems to fully charge in less than an hour although it wasn't fully discharged last time I charged it. You can get it for $19.99 if you are an Amazon Prime member or if you order directly from Power Practical
I don't want to sound like a sales rep and I don't have any financial interest in this product but it's perfect for a pilot's survival kit. I stumbled on it in a Popular Science newsfeed on my iPhone's News app so I thought I would mention it on a pilot forum for those who are interested.

Survival kit items are a big deal for me. I flew my Maule to the Idaho back country in 2016 and spent a week flying in the mountains and canyons of the Frank Church River of No Return wilderness area near McCall Idaho. It's easy to imagine the need for good survival items in that rugged country. I kept thinking "What if I had a mechanical problem and had to land between 100 foot pine trees on the side of the canyon and survive for three days!" I have some of the same thoughts flying forest fires in the mountains of Western North Carolina although it's not as remote as Idaho and I'm in radio contact with the Incident Commander on the ground.

Anyway, I hope you like the Sparkr Mini like I do.
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