So my school offers a class that goes down to the altitude chamber in OKC at the FAA and I went to it today. I was wondering if anybody else has ever been to one and would like to share their experience. First they took us to a spacial disorentation simulator which was amazing as far as feeling the effects of different types of disorentation. Then in the afternoon they took us to the chamber. They took us to 8,000’ and did a rapid decompression up to 18,000’ (we didn’t have our masks on, they told us we were going to do it but they didn’t say when) after that we went up to FL250 where we took the masks off to experience hypoxia. This one guy that was with us started twitching real bad and couldn’t get his mask back on, it was kinda cool. After that, we went back down to 18,000 and took the masks back off for 5 minutes and looked at a color wheel for a while then put the mask back on, the colors do some pretty trippy things when you are deprived of o2. I would strongly recommend going to an altitude chamber if you get the chance, it’s a really beneficial class, I learned so much today.
I did the Alt. chamber while in the Air Force. Great experience and lots of fun. Just bring the “gas” mask!
I also did the chamber in OKC and highly recommend it. Great experience.
A couple of buddies of mine went to the one at Langely. He tells a funny story about the foam cushion he was sitting on inflating very rapidly during the rapid decompression and smacking him on both sides of the head.
Heres a video of some folks in a chamber. heres a funnier one out on the internet with a gal waving her hands around in the air like she’s high, but the video is very poor quality.
After seeing these, and knowing how much it affects the body, it’s amazing to watch the Discovery special on Mount Everest. One asthmatic (who is determined to make it to the top without supplimental O2), one double amputee, one guy with steel plates in his back and leg following a near-fatal motorcycle accident…those people are incredible.
While I think there are some things that you can learn from an altitude chamber, it isn’t a very good simulation of the real world. Catastrophic depressurizations are extremely rare and you probably don’t need an altitude chamber to teach you the symptoms - the loud bang is a dead giveaway. More typically, pilots suffer from mild to moderate hypoxia from flying a depressurized plane or a slow depressurization that is very different from the sudden altitude change in a chamber. I recently heard of a sim where they rig up a cylinder of oxygen and a cylinder of nitrogen through a manifold in such a way that lets you slowly change simulated altitude much like happens in the real world. The symptoms sneak up on you and it’s different from what you are likely to experience in an altitude chamber.
I did the altitude chamber in the Air Force several times. It was a long time ago so I forget the exact altitudes we went to, but it was higher than 25k. If I remember correctly everybody had to take the masks off at 25k. Then I think we went to 35k where it was voluntary. Then we went to over 40k where they only let one person take the mask off because they only lasted a few seconds and had to be helped to put the mask back on. It was amazing the difference in useful time you had between 25k and 35k. And if you are over 40k you have very little time to get your mask on. I was a crew member on the C-141 and we sometimes would fly at 42k so it was nice to know how much time you may have at that altitude.
I’ve seen the web site and actually submitted some material that is on there. I also went to Wright-Patt in May and watched the last flight of the last C-141. My dad was on the test program for the plane then was on the crew that delivered the first operational plane to the Air Force so I took him back to watch the last one. I grew up with the Starlifter and then spent 1500 hours riding around the world on one. It was sad to see it retired. It’s even sadder to see pictures of them being cut up down at DM.
We’ve lived adjacent to the approach to 06 at McGuire for thirty years and have spent that time watching the T-Tails arrive and depart, as well as having many neighbors and friends who drove them on a regular basis.
Besides using them for hop & pops and HALOs back in the day, I had the pleasure (?) late in life of taking a winter 141 ride to Thule to inspect a jet fuel storage tank that had collapsed resulting in an extensive oil spill both inside and outside the berm and extending onto the ice in North Star Bay.
Froze my non-existent butt off on the flights there and back!
You couldn’t get the Flight Engineer to turn the heat up for you? Seems like the back of that plane was never comfortable. It was either too hot or too cold. We used to open up a side panel and store beer in them that we would drink on the crew bus ride to the hotel. Most of the time the beer would come out nice and cold but sometimes it would come out frozen. You had to be careful because one crew had a couple of beer cans explode while in the compartments. The maintanance crews didn’t like that too much. I understand the plane smelled like beer for a few weeks.
We asked and he tried, but it was ineffective at best.
When they kitted us out with full arctic gear before departure, I naively thought it was for use when we arrived, not for the trip.
At least I was somewhat inured to cold already as I was coming from the northeast. The CG LtCDR I was travelling with came directly from Key West! Poor guy wouldn’t go north of the Mason-Dixon line after that in winter at gunpoint.