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81 Days Below Zero, Brian Murphy


Late 1943, 5 aviators flew out of Ladd Field, Alaska, for a 3-stage prop test for a B-24 Liberator plane making observations at 3 different altitudes. It ends in a crash with only one survivor – Leon Crane, a city kid from Phili with no wilderness experience. This is the story of how he stayed alive in the grip of the Yukon winter for almost 12 weeks. How did he learn to survive? What did he have with him that enabled his survival in extremely low temperatures? Once after Crane miraculously walked upon the most remote cabin with actual supplies that saved his life, he struggled because he was safe in a cabin. A quandary – his food and ammo could not hold out until the end of winter. Any attempt to hike out depended on having enough supplies and ability to hunt. Give up the security of the cabin for the perils of the open? A metaphor for life. After eventually reaching a cabin with 2 people actually living there, he was ‘saved’. He left some part of himself back in Alaska, and Crane never shared much about his ordeal. The wilderness can do that to people who face it alone. It’s almost a private, sacred thing.

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