December 2007 Issue

Better Hypoxia Training: Rob Bests a Chamber

Two companies now offer reduced oxygen breathing training for hypoxia awareness. Here’s why it beats a chamber ride hands down.

We sometimes think that another word for hypoxia ought to be denial or, at the very least, the phrase "false sense of well-being" should morph to "self-delusion." In the aviation press, we have beaten the hypoxia topic to a pink pulp, because it lends itself so readily to the pointing of a boney finger at the profoundly stupid things pilots sometimes do. In this regard, hypoxia is the multi-headed beast—we can be dumb about ignoring its dangers, dumb about ignoring training meant to mitigate the risk and really dumb when it actually happens. And how often is that? We don’t really know, because even if an accident is caused by hypoxia, the post-mortem may offer only speculative conclusions. In many GA accidents, the true cause may drift downwind with the smoke from the wreckage simply because light aircraft forensics are so inadequate.

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