DON’T BE AFRAID TO FLY! (Aug, 1945)
Saying 400 mph is “approaching the speed of sound” is sort of like saying that walking down the street is “approaching the maximum speed of a Formula One race car.”
DON’T BE AFRAID TO FLY!
As a civilian pilot you will experience none of the hazards which are apt to confront our military flyers.
PICK up today’s military aviation releases and read all about how blackout suits, electric underwear, pressure cabins, crash helmets and oxygen masks protect our pilots against the “effects of flying.” No wonder many of us are afraid to go up in a plane! We have been given the impression that in order to fly, a fellow has to be a kind of Captain Marvel with a stainless-steel constitution.
The point we must remember, of course, is that all of these new releases pertain to our military pilots who fly at extremely high altitudes at speeds approaching those of sound— 400 miles per hour and greater. In combat, dive-bombing and ground strafing they indulge in acrobatics which we won’t see again after the war unless we attend an air meet. In these maneuvers they experience sensations and hazards with which the civilian pilot will never have to contend. Of course they need special equipment to protect themselves!< There are certain factors the civilian pilot will meet, however, which are quite different than those ordinarily experienced by any common earthling, and these are apt to scare the novice because they are new to him. Perhaps you are one of those who are afraid of high altitudes, just can't stand a park swing, or become dizzy on a merry-go-round. For such a person the mere contemplation of a ride in an airplane conjures up a bad case of the jitters. The simple process of understanding the mechanics of flight effects—exactly what is happening to your body during a plane ride —why your ears become stuffed up at certain times, why you become dizzy when you look at the earth below, why it is just as natural to bank with a turning plane as it is to bank a bicycle when turning a corner—the explanation of these things will enable you to laugh at their effects and give you the poise and relaxation necessary to enjoy flying. Think back to your last subway or bus ride. If you had closed your eyes at the time and imagined that you were in a plane, wouldn't you have thought your ride a rather rough one? Standing in a subway car you have to hang on to the safety strap to keep your balance when the train lurches; is this any more of an indication of danger than a safety belt in a plane? All it does is keep you comfortably in your seat should you fly into an air current or should your plane bounce when landing. The early automobilist was warned by the best medical authorities that the swiftness of the passing landscape would gradually weaken and blind the habitual speeder. His duster, goggles, seasick tablets, muffler and gloves were quite necessary, for his nervous anxiety in using this new "super swift" method of transportation made him a pushover for seasickness, nausea and colds. However, as soon as he learned to "ride along With" the car instead of fighting against each hump and sway, to relax in a business suit while driving, to realize that the effects of driving were not bad at all, then he became the nonchalant driver that he is today. Tomorrow's amateur who seeks a physical permit to fly will find the necessary requirements almost similar to those for driving a car! According to the lowered requirements for a Private Pilot's Certificate, as announced by the Civil Aeronautics Authority recently, if your heart is in good shape and your eyes give you fairly good vision with glasses, you are in shape to fly. If you have any physical disability such as the loss of a leg or arm, infantile paralysis, etc., and your flight instructor thinks you're a safe bet, he can let you solo and eventually take your flight test. Effective July 1, 1945, any medical doctor can give you your physical exam. Just get the exam blank from the nearest C.A.A. office or send for one to General Inspections, Civil Aeronautics Authority, Department of Commerce, Washington, D. C., and take it to the doctor to fill out. The strides from yesterday's athletes of the air to tomorrow's casual air-commuter have been made easy by Col. W. Randolph Lovelace and his Aero-Medical Laboratory at Wright Field. Theirs has been a labor of war. In their lab they have their pilots blackout in terrific dives and scratch the thin air and cold of the stratosphere, with little thought for postwar flying. However, their research and design improvement have contributed to safe, easy flying and have helped to place the airplane within reach of almost everyone. Forget these hazards - they are encountered only in military flying anoxia (lack of oxygen). Effects, caused by too little air pressure, start above 10.000 feet. Insufficient air is forced into the lungs to meet body requirements. As plane climbs above this altitude, pilot first becomes tired and his reactions become sluggish. Then he becomes drowsy or giddy as when mildly intoxicated. Above 18.000 feet, he experiences loss of memory, emotional outbursts. Loss of consciousness is final result. EXTREME CENTRIFUGAL FORCE In high-speed turns or abrupt pullouts. the tendency (similar to that experienced in a car makinq a sharp, fast turn) is for the pilot to continue straight ahead. The plane holds him in position, but his blood and the loose, fatty portions of his body follow the line of motion. Blood draining from his head will cause a blackout. Private planes will not cause severe effects, only very slight pressures. AEROEMBOLISM (the bends) The "bends" start at 30.000 feet, and are caused by prolonged stays at very high altitudes or extremely fast climbs. Pressure inside the body, greater than pressure outside, causes the blood to "boil" like a freshly opened bottle of soda. Symptoms are itchy skin, pains in joints and coughinq or hard breathing. No private plane will lift you to "bend altitudes" yet, so you won't have to worry! No bends for you! HIGH ALTITUDE FROSTBITE A fighter pilot may leave a ground temperature of 120°F. in the desert and ascend to a stratospheric -67 °F. in a very few minutes. The body can compensate for some temperature change. but not that much. When gloves are removed or electrically heated clothing is not used at cold altitudes, the hands and body are subject to frostbite. Ordinary clothing is not sufficient to conserve body heat under these extreme conditions. These factors may bother you -but they are NOT hazards jitters. If the same amount of anxiety, ruth and tenseness that involve* the preparation for an air trip occurred before a train ride, we would often find ourselves "train lick." Don't gulp hurried meals before flying; an upset stomach can lead to a bad case of the jitters. If you are afraid of height, forget it! In a plane there is no sensation of either speed or height; the little houses and villages below look so close that you can touch them. And the wings can't fall off your plane. So-called "air pockets" are just like bumps on a roadway. TEMPERATURE CHANGE Big planes are immune to atmospheric discomforts because they are air-conditioned, but with a light plane, even though it is equipped with a cabin heater, it is best to give a thought to temperature change. If you are perspiring on a hot summer day and decide to take a plane ride, carry a sweater. When you leave the earth, you are leaving your main source of heat, and temperature drops rapidly with altitude. The best flying costume is one that can be opened at low altitudes to prevent sweating and can be closed "upstairs." AIRSICKNESS Airsickness, like seasickness, is a form of motionsickness. caused by disturbance of the inner ear sense of balance which, in turn, affects the stomach muscles. Nervous tension, too, is a factor. Before flying, make up your mind that you will relax completely, and not become tense under any circumstances. Here are some hints if you are inclined to airsickness: (a) don't fly if you have a "hangover" or any other digestive disturbance, (b) if your pilot is going to perform acrobatics, have them explained, (c) don't fight the ship's motion. GAS EXPANSION When you send a balloon aloft, it becomes larger because the pressure within causes it to expand against the reduced pressure outside. If ascent is continued, the balloon will eventually burst. You, too. can become a balloon to a great extent. Ordinarily you will release stomach gases when you reach 20,000 feet. To avoid any discomfort at lower altitudes, avoid soda pop, beer, gaseous foods and beverages. Don't chew gum during ascent, or you will swallow high-pressure air. And relax during your mealtime! ASCENT If you are accustomed to riding in high-speed, high-altitude elevators. you are familiar with ascent reactions. As you ascend, the high-pressure air within your head expands and pops out of your inner ear by means of a tube-valve called "Eustachian tube." This feeling may be uncomfortable, but nothing more. If you fly with a head cold, however, this tube may be swollen shut and the air in your ear will be trapped, causing your eardrum to bulge outward with the pressure. This can be painful; don't fly with a cold! DESCENT Although high-pressure air trapped within your head usually finds an easy outlet during ascent, such is not the case when the high-pressure air outside tries to get In again during descent. It tends to "cap" the valve shut. To open this valve and relieve the uncomfortable pressure, you must swallow or yawn. If this fails, try holding your nose and blowing very gently. Nature takes care of this situation ordinarily by causing us to swallow regularly. Airliners descend at a rate fixed for the comfort of their passengers.