Plane Crash

A fun team-building exercise that gives team members the chance to see what type of role they take in groups

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A step-by-step guide to play the game


Tell the group that they just have survived the crash of a small plane. You are all wearing casual clothes and are stranded on a mountain in winter weather and it looks like it will start snowing soon. You have no idea where you are and where the closest town is. But your group managed to salvage 12 items (hand out the papers with the 12 items).


Your task is to list the 12 items in order of importance for your survival. You have to get an agreement as a group and describe why you prioritized each item as you did.


If they finished, have a group discussion. Questions you can ask:

  • How they came up with the decision?
  • Who influenced the decisions and how?
  • How could better decisions have been made?
  • Did people listen to each other? If not, why not?
  • What roles did group members adopt?
  • How was conflict managed?
  • What kinds of behavior helped or hindered the group?
  • How did the others whose opinions did not match the final decision feel?
  • How did people feel about the decisions?
  • What have you learned about the functioning of this group?

Extra game information

If you want you can show them at the end the correct answer. But the focus should be more on the group dynamics than on getting the correct answer.


  1. Cigarette lighter (without fluid): The gravest danger facing the group is exposure to cold. The greatest need is for a source of warmth and the second greatest need is for signaling devices. This makes building a fire the first order of business. Without matches, something is needed to produce sparks, and even without fluid, a cigarette lighter can do that.
  2. Ball of steel wool: To make a fire, the survivors need a means of catching he sparks made by the cigarette lighter. This is the best substance for catching a spark and supporting a flame, even if the steel wool is a little wet.
  3. Extra shirt and pants for each survivor: Besides adding warmth to the body, clothes can also be used for shelter, signaling, bedding, bandages, string (when unravelled) and fuel for the fire.
  4. Can of vegetable oil: This has many uses. A mirror-like signaling device can be made from the lid. After shining the lid with steel wool, it will reflect sunlight. While this could be limited somewhat by the trees, a member of the group could climb a tree and use the mirrored lid to signal search planes. It can be rubbed on exposed skin for protection against the cold. The empty can is useful in melting snow for drinking water. It is much safer to drink warmed water than to eat snow, since warm water will help retain body heat. The can is also useful as a cup.
  5. 20 x 20 ft. piece of heavy-duty canvas: The cold makes shelter necessary, and canvas would protect against wind and snow (canvas is used in making tents). Spread on a frame made of trees, it could be used as a tent or a wind screen. It might also be used as a ground cover to keep the survivors dry.
  6. Small axe: Survivors need a constant supply of wood in order to maintain the fire. The axe could be used for this as well as for clearing a sheltered campsite, cutting tree branches for ground insulation, and constructing a frame for the canvas tent.
  7. Family-size chocolate bars (one per person): Chocolate will provide some food energy. Since it contains mostly carbohydrates, it supplies the energy without making digestive demands on the body.
  8. Newspapers (one per person): These are useful in starting a fire. They can also be used as insulation under clothing when rolled up and placed around a person’s arms and legs. A newspaper can also be used as a verbal signaling device when rolled up in a megaphone-shape. It could also provide reading material for recreation.
  9. A loaded pistol: The pistol provides a sound-signaling device. (The international distress signal is 3 shots fired in rapid succession).There have been numerous cases of survivors going undetected because they were too weak to make a loud enough noise to attract attention. The butt of the pistol could be used as a hammer, and the powder from the shells will assist in fire building. By placing a small bit of cloth in a cartridge emptied of its bullet, one can start a fire by firing the gun at dry wood on the ground. The pistol also has some serious disadvantages. Anger, frustration, impatience, irritability, and lapses of rationality may increase as the group awaits rescue. The availability of a lethal weapon is a danger to the group under these conditions. Although a pistol could be used in hunting, it would take an expert marksman to kill an animal with it. Then the animal would have to be transported to the crash site, which could prove difficult to impossible depending on its size.
  10. Some whiskey: The only uses of whiskey are as an aid in fire building and as a fuel for a torch (made by soaking a piece of clothing in the whiskey and attaching it to a tree branch). The empty bottle could be used for storing water. The danger of whiskey is that someone might drink it, thinking it would bring warmth. Alcohol takes on the temperature it is exposed to and a drink near freezing whiskey would freeze a person’s oesophagus and stomach. Alcohol also dilates the blood vessels in the skin, resulting in chilled blood belong carried back to the heart, resulting in a rapid loss of body heat. Thus, a drunk person is more likely to get hypothermia than a sober person is.
  11. A compass: Because a compass might encourage someone to try to walk to the nearest town, it is a dangerous item. The only redeeming feature is that it could be used as a reflector of sunlight (due to its glass top).
  12. An air map made of plastic: This is also among the least desirable of the items because it will encourage individuals to try to walk to the nearest town. It’s only useful feature is as a ground cover to keep someone dry.

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