On June 2, 1995, U.S. Air Force Capt. Scott O’Grady was shot down over Bosnia supporting NATO Operation Deny Flight. He spent the next six days in hostile enemy territory, surviving on rain water, grass and bugs while avoiding capture using his survival training and Department of Defense-issued evasion chart. Evasion charts help downed pilots survive and safely navigate to an area where friendly forces can reach him.
“When I was finally settled in, I pulled my evasion chart from my G-suit pocket and began to plot the longitude and latitude coordinates I’d gotten from my GPS receiver last night… [It] showed all the hills valleys, rivers, and land features around me. On the legend was other helpful information about local vegetation and animals,” O’Grady later wrote.
Today, evasion charts – or EVCs – are produced by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in partnership with the DOD Joint Personnel Recovery Agency. EVCs are made of a highly versatile and durable material which can be used to hold water, haul food, stay warm, block the sun and cover wounds. EVCs cover all sorts of terrain, like jungles, deserts, islands and mountains. The charts also have many features not found on traditional maps, like advice for preventing hypothermia, dehydration and other exposure-related ailments, and instructions for placing a limb with a compound fracture in traction to set the bone. Other helpful hints include: a list of edible and nonedible plants and animals, step-by-step instructions for testing foods to see if they are poisonous and a list of predatory animals and other dangerous species indigenous to the area.