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David Alloway

In Memoriam
David Alloway
May 24, 1957 – Mar 11, 2003

Survival instructors are a special breed. When one of us  passes it effects all of us on levels that are hard to describe. The loss is  measured in part by the passing of the individual and partly by the enormous  vocabulary of skills we each represent. When David left us he took with him  wilderness lore that may never be replaced. David had the respect and admiration  of us all. We grieve his passing

David died as the  result of an accident with a horse. His foot was crushed during an outing and  despite the pain he persevered. Within a couple of days an infection had set in  and by the time he was finally evacuated, he was in critical condition. He died  at the hospital of a severe infection. 

The motto of David Alloway’s Skills of Survival was “Dum vita est, spes est.”  The translation is usually given in English as “While there is life, there is hope” but  David Alloway preferred  the Texas translation, “It ain’t over ‘til you’re buzzard chow.” The company logo is Buzzy the Buzzard, who perches atop an empty canteen.  The alumni of DA SOS courses are known as “Buzzard Cheaters” which is also the title of the company’s newsletter.  Actual buzzards spotted on the courses are simply referred to as “losers.”

Eventually we all become "buzzard chow". David just got  there first.

DA SOS teaches in several different environments, but it is best known for its courses in arid land and desert survival.  Called “the nation’s leading desert survival instructor” by Outside Magazine in 1999, David’s past clients have included the US Air Force, US Army, National Guard, US Customs Service, US Coast Guard, Outward Bound Instructors, National Parks Service, Mexican and Australian Park Rangers, and the tenth Canadian to summit Mount Everest. The main goal of   DA SOS, however, is to teach anyone venturing into the wilderness to do so with safety and confidence.  People from all walks of life have participated and learned from the courses.

With course locations in the United States, Mexico, and Australia, DA SOS is recognized as a world leader in desert survival and has instructional capabilities in Spanish, French, and German. They can even set up training with camels with a handler speaking Arabic with a Texas accent! While the course hours are long and fast paced, they are also enlivened with David’s well known sense of humor.  Survival is a serious subject, but it need not be taught without a few laughs.  Customers often walk away thinking they received an “information overload” but the DA SOS philosophy is to give clients their money’s worth rather than have them thinking they could have just read a book.

Speaking of books, David is also author of Desert Survival Skills from the University of Texas Press.  Like his instruction, reviewers note the humor and personal anecdotes that are woven into the text.  Even the Buzzard Cheater newsletter has a column called “David’s Weird Survival Tips.” One client, who had made a career in the US Navy teaching SERE (survival, evasion, resistance, and escape) said, “This is the funnest survival course I have ever been on.”  The instruction, however, is far from mere entertainment.  In 1998 The Odyssey Exploration Society chose DA SOS and its associate, The Texas Camel Corps, to train for a 700-mile camel trek in the Empty Quarter of Arabia. 

The journey was completed in 1999 and was documented on the television series National Geographic Explorer.  David’s training has also been featured on the PBS series Texas Parks & Wildlife. In September he completed shooting a desert survival segment for the upcoming TBS series, The Worst Case Scenario. For articles on David and his courses go to

www.outsidemag.com/magazine/1099/199910dest3.html and http://outside.away.com/outside/destinations/200201/200201deserts_8.adp

If you want to go to David’s site go to;



A memorial Blade Called the “Alloway” based on David’s design. Details in the Forum.

January 7, 2010Karen Hood