Title: What would Amanda Ripley Say about the Survivors of the Fairchild?
In 1972, a horrific incident occurred in South America. The Uruguayan passenger plane Air Force Flight 571, on route to Santiago, Chile, crashed in the Andes Mountains and caused an unforeseeable event. Reactions to this event have varied, but there is one voice that would shed an interesting light on the situation: Amanda Ripley, an author and reporter that makes a living from thorough examinations of human behavior, especially in times of crisis.
When Air Force Flight 571, also known as the Fairchild, crashed into the Andes Mountains as a result of weather conditions and landing miscalculation, the result was catastrophic. Only 27 out of the 45 passengers were able to survive the crash, but this did not prove very lucky; the crowd was stranded in the ice-cold mountains without the ability to radio for help. Many people were injured and suffering without proper medical supplies, and there was nearly no food to share. After scouring the mountainside, wreckage and meager supplies for every possible crumb of food, the survivors eventually succumbed to cannibalism, and began eating the dead passengers. After suffering freezing nights, malnutrition, dehydration and other sicknesses, the remaining 16 survivors were finally rescued.
Amanda Ripley has written an extremely popular book on disaster survival, using individual survivor accounts and human behavior research to identify who survives disastrous incidents, and why. Her experience covering post-disaster developments (such as on 9/11) also helps her to answer these questions. If Amanda Ripley were to review the Fairchild tragedy, she would likely have educated opinions to share.
One of Ripley’s main concerns is people’s lack of preparation for disastrous events. In the case of the Fairchild disaster, she would likely note that the survivors lack of survival skills made them less able to search for help. Knowing more about how a disaster may play out before the disaster occurs is extremely helpful to individuals caught in the turmoil. Ripley might easily have offered that the survivors of the Fairchild, being inexperienced with trauma and panic, were therefore likely to commit key mistakes towards survival. One group of survivors, for example, nearly froze to death when they did not consider the drop in temperature at night.
However, Ripley would probably suggest that some, if not all survivors of the Fairchild were prepared in some way to deal with the disaster. Survivors that understood how to deal with traumatic injuries (such as frostbite) or how to sew clothes and sleeping bags together were amongst the survivors of the ordeal. Those that finally relented to cannibalism also managed to survive. Only the survivors that overcame panic or paralytic fear were able to determine the best course of action, and were then able to make it out of the Andes – something that Ripley’s ideologies would avidly support.