On June 2nd, 1995, U.S. Air Force F-16 pilot Scott O’Grady was flying a peacekeeping mission over Bosnia as part of the 555th Fighter Squadron from Aviano Air Base in Italy.
It was a routine combat air patrol over northwest Bosnia, but it quickly turned into anything but routine.
O’Grady was alerted to a threat on his radar, and he realized his plane had been locked onto by a target-tracking radar.
This meant that a missile was headed right for him.
Suddenly, O’Grady heard a roar… and his F-16 was being split in two by a missile.
In a matter of seconds, O’Grady decided to eject as his plane went up in flames in the sky.
It took more than 25 minutes for O’Grady to reach the ground after ejecting.
While falling, he could see soldiers following his path.
As soon as he hit the ground, O’Grady removed his parachute, grabbed his survival bag, and fled into the woods.
For the next week, he evaded Serbian paramilitary forces.
He moved at night, and occasionally used his radio to try to call for help.
He fought wet conditions and hunger, and ate plants and bugs to survive.
On the fourth day, he ran out of water from his bailout bag, so he resorted to drinking rainwater.
On the sixth night, he was able to establish radio communications with a nearby F-16 pilot.
Soon after, four U.S. Marine helicopters were headed more than 80 miles behind enemy lines.
About 40 other U.S. aircraft were part of the rescue mission, they kept watch on nearby Serbs and were prepared to act if needed.
Early in the morning, O’Grady ran from a wooded area towards a clearing where one of the helicopters was waiting.
He had his 9mm service pistol in his hand in case of enemy fire.
The Marines provided cover as O’Grady jumped on the helicopter, and two helicopter gunships flew nearby in case the enemy appeared.
After being rescued O’Grady said, “Those Marines were the heroes. I was just doing my job.”
O’Grady was lucky to be alive.
Not only had he survived behind enemy lines, but he did it with only the gear in his bag.
Many pilots carry some sort of survival bag, which (depending on who you ask) goes by many names, but is commonly referred to as a bail-out bag.
What’s a bailout bag?
The term bail-out bag started with law enforcement…
As active shooter situations increased, law enforcement agencies realized patrol officers needed to be equipped to respond to more complex situations.
And they needed to have more gear at the ready (such as ammo and medical supplies).
If they encountered a wounded person, they needed to have the basic supplies to provide first aid.
In the civilian world, our bail-out bag will likely be constructed different, and will be built to reflect your situation.
For instance, law enforcement makes extra ammo a big part of their bail-out bag, which may or may not be as critical for you.
Instead, having more water might be a bigger priority for you.
Bail-out bag vs. bug-out bag:
You’ve likely heard a lot about bug-out bags for your home or car.
They’re a critical part of your survival gear, and should have enough supplies to keep you going for days.
But a bail-out bag is smaller…
It has the basics and nothing more, as it’s designed to keep you going for 24 hours.
A bail-out bag is ready to grab and go in seconds.
What should be in your bail-out bag?
Most importantly, you should have enough water for 24 hours.
Also, have a small water filter that can be used to filter water from puddles or rivers.
Next, add a small first aid kit that includes bandages and trauma supplies.
Don’t forget a quality survival knife or multitool, and a small flashlight.
Consider adding a small cooking cup, some loose rounds of extra ammo, a pair of gloves, duct tape, and paracord.
Lastly, if you don’t carry cash with you at all times, remember to keep some in your bail-out bag.
You want enough cash to get a hotel room, or get you out of town if needed.
One thing that isn’t part of my bailout bag is a gun, because this should already be on my hip.
But I would make sure to include an extra magazine or two in your bail-out bag.
If you don’t already have a bail-out bag, you may wish to start putting one together.