High Altitude Training

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My buddy Dan and I flew up to Beale Air Force Base today to go through their high altitude training program.  The five painful hours we spent in ground classes was made up for by the one hour we got to spend in the altitude chamber.

They first took us up to 5k ft and back down to ensure everyone could clear their ears successfully.  We then spent 30 minutes at sea level breathing 100% oxygen to purge some of the nitrogen from our blood.  After a quick mask seal check (which one unfortunate person failed and had to be pulled from the chamber), we started our ascent.  We climbed at about 3k fpm to 8k ft and then leveled off briefly.  We then climbed at 10k fpm to FL180 where we removed our masks for a couple of minutes.  After replacing our masks, we climbed again at 3k fpm to FL250.  We took off our masks and they had us perform a quiz with a few simple questions and a maze.  They told us to start the quiz right after taking off our masks, but I completed it before I really felt anything, so it didn't really show how your brain starts malfunctioning.  After a couple of minutes, I started having a couple of minor symptoms including euphoria and skin tingling, so I turned on the emergency oxygen and put the mask back on.  Finally, we dropped by to FL180 and took off the masks one last time to check our night vision.  I really didn't notice much of a difference in my vision with and without the oxygen at this altitude, but most people did.  Finally, we dropped back to sea level and did a debrief.

Overall, I think the experience was worthwhile, but I was really hoping to experience more loss of mental ability.  No one in the chamber really did anything odd or even appeared to lose their ability to think clearly.  Some people did lose their color or get blue lips, but that was about it.

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This page contains a single entry by Jason published on May 24, 2010 11:04 PM.

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