April 1999 Issue

A Breath of Thin Air

Hypoxia doesnít really care who you are, and youíd better take the threat seriously

There comes a time in almost every pilotís career when the need arises to transit high terrain or overfly weather at an altitude in the low to mid teens.

Sometimes the climb is planned, such as crossing a mountain pass in the west or the Appalachians in the east. Sometimes itís not, like when trying to overfly building cumulus clouds on a summer morning. In either case, the flight to higher altitude is generally intended to be brief and the need for supplemental oxygen is often written off.

These flights seem to start out smoothly. Once you climb, you wonder why you donít fly high more often. Things are going well Ė very well, in fact. You realize you havenít felt this well in years....

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