In part 7-5-13 of the AIM, there is quite peculiar guidance given:

g. Off-Airport Landings.

  1. In the event of an off-airport landing, pilots have used a number of different visual cues to gain reference. Use whatever you must to create the contrast you need. Natural references seem to work best (trees, rocks, snow ribs, etc.)

    (a) Over flight.

    (b) Use of markers.

    (c) Weighted flags.

    (d) Smoke bombs.

    (e) Any colored rags.

    (f) Dye markers.

    (g) Kool-aid.

    (h) Trees or tree branches.

How exactly is Kool-Aid going to assist in an off-airport landing?

  • $\begingroup$ But in what way is Kool-Aid worth noting in this context? $\endgroup$ – Jonathan Bell Apr 17 '18 at 3:37
  • $\begingroup$ @JonathanBell Because it is, in the FAA's opinion, a good option. Low cost, readily available, biodegradable and non-toxic. $\endgroup$ – user71659 Apr 18 '18 at 1:31
  • $\begingroup$ I will now be packing Kool-Aid packets in a pocket of my flight bag, "just in case." And it'll be a great conversation starter. Wow, this blows my mind. What a gem! $\endgroup$ – TypeIA Apr 18 '18 at 4:00

Kool-Aid is usually brightly colored due to added dye. It comes in powdered form, and you would normally add water to make a solution.

If you have some in your aircraft in a suitable container (perhaps a paper bag), you can drop it on the ground during an overflight of an off-airport landing location. Hopefully the bag will burst on impact. When you return for an actual landing, the brightly colored powder can be a useful visual reference. This is especially important for landing with undistinguished surface cover such as snow.

Doing this successfully will take some practice, because you have to drop the right amount, in such a way that it breaks and spreads on the ground, at a suitable location, from some height that maintains your margins of safety. And if you're doing an off-airport landing in the first place, you probably have some other emergency going on at the same time.

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    $\begingroup$ Learning how to accurately bomb Kool-Aid powder for the first time while dealing with an aircraft emergency seems like a strange plan to me, but that seems to be what the AIM is saying. Once down, though, red or orange Kool-Aid powder will be an excellent way to mark snow, as a very distinctive indicator of human presence. $\endgroup$ – Ralph J Apr 17 '18 at 12:50
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    $\begingroup$ Where do you see an aircraft emergency? Are you suggesting that an off-airport landing is an emergency? (youtube.com/results?search_query=off+airport+landing) $\endgroup$ – abelenky Apr 17 '18 at 21:50
  • $\begingroup$ @abelenky: No, I'm not suggesting that an off-airport landing is always an emergency. It depends on your plan. When I flew gliders, an off-airport landing almost always meant something was going wrong (and you don't even get a chance for a proper overflight in a glider). On the other hand, there are certainly situations where an off-airport landing is exactly part of the plan and not an emergency. $\endgroup$ – Greg Hewgill Apr 17 '18 at 22:15
  • $\begingroup$ Re off airport landings & emergencies, not necessarily so. Some of my favorite places involve landing on dry lake beds. And of course there's Alaska... $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Apr 18 '18 at 5:21

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