Crew altitude training

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by wuzak, Jul 24, 2014.

  1. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    I never thought about this before, but it must have been an issue - especially for the USAAF because of their use of un-pressurised B-17s and B-24s. It also must have been a concern for fighter pilots, who could, on occasion, find them flying above 30,000ft. Later in the war, with escort fighters for the high flying bombers, it was more common.

    It was an entry for the 16th November 1941 in 105 Squadron's ORB which got me thinking:

    Also:

    This was in a period when 105 Squadron were working up to become the first Mosquito squadron, having returned to Britain from Malta less than a month earlier. The entry in question was the day after Geoffrey de Havilland Jr delivered the first Mosquito to teh squadron - and the day that he took it back for further adjustments.

    What were other methods of training and/or testing pilots and crews for high altitude flight?
     
  2. Balljoint

    Balljoint Member

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    I don’t believe that there’s a test for individuals. Perhaps the testing was to see if there was a problem with the planes climb profile. Normally, there’s only a minor worry at 20,000’ and can get more serious at 25,000’. However, a modest climb rate and/or the use of 02 will lower the N2 in the blood enough to avoid the bends.
     
  3. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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  4. gumbyk

    gumbyk Well-Known Member

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    The bends isn't really too big an issue at altitude. Hypoxia is the big problem. At 18,000ft there is half the amount of available oxygen.

    Its kind of like being drunk. Lack of co-ordination, vision colour changes, inability to do simple calculations, that sort of thing.
     
  5. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    Nothing to do with flying at altitude but climbing at altitude shows some people are much more prone to altitude sickness than others and it isn't something you can "train through" A recently retired pro soccer player (obviously very fit) had to leave a climb in South America due to altitude sickness, it can kill very slowly and painfully.
     
  6. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    There certainly was in British services, post war.
    My father was flying Sea Furys with the Fleet Air Arm in the early 1950s. As jets came in pilots underwent a 'High Altitude Selection Test'. My father took this test in May 1954 and was placed in category C, 'unsuitable'.
    He never told me, but I believe that this is why he decided to convert to helicopters. He left 801 Squadron at the end of 1954 and transferred to 705 Squadron, Helicopter Conversion Unit. He continued to fly helicopters until he left the navy, years later.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  7. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    like flyboyj listed my father told me they put several cadets in a pressure chamber with O2 masks....then told them to take off the masks and write their names on a piece of paper. all the time the instructor ( who had O2 ) aksed them how they felt and watched them pass out one by one. he would put the mask back on them. afterwards they would look at the paper they had signed repeatedly...the first sigs were regular then they got sloppy and then completely illegible. this was supposed to aquaint them with how hypoxia felt so they could recognize the symptoms and get O2 or get down to a decent altitude. i suspect a there were a fair amount of pilots who had malfunctioning O2 systems and succumed to it. bill overstreet was lucky in that he snapped out of the black out with enough time to get his plane back to flying or else he would have been KIA for reasons "unknown".
     
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