May 17, 2008

How Do Fighter Pilots Go To The Bathroom

Here at the Shack we are proud purveyors of news about all sorts of things, including bodily functions. We have a certain appreciation for the call of nature and have wondered about how pilots take care of this.

There is something somewhat comical about the image of the tough fighter pilot waltzing off his plane with a big stain in their flight suit. Anyway, CNN has the details about a potential solution to this problem.

Is it just me or does the Advanced Mission Extender Device sound like a sex toy.
"WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Where do fighter pilots traveling faster than the speed of sound go when they really need to "go"?

Until recently, the answer has been: into a bag.

But it's not a great solution. "Piddle packs" -- heavy-duty bags containing absorbent sponges -- have been blamed for at least two crashes over the years, and they're not always tidy.

A few years ago, after enduring years of complaints from pilots, the Air Force let it be known that it was looking for an answer.

A small medical equipment development company in Milton, Vermont answered the call.

"The DoD put out a list of projects they needed solutions for," said Mark Harvie, president of Omni Medical Solutions. "Bladder relief for pilots was one of the items on the list and we were looking for a new project," he said.

After four years of testing by the Vermont Air National Guard and the Air Force and about $5 million in government and private funds, AMXD is spelling relief for pilots aloft.

Under the old system, pilots routinely avoid liquids before taking off to prevent the unmentionable. But dehydration can make them more susceptible to the G-forces typically seen in fighter aircraft, Harvie said.

When nature's call becomes too pressing to ignore, a pilot has to fly and unbuckle the harness at the same time -- while using both hands to maneuver around in a seat to which he or she is virtually molded.

The aerobatic maneuver is even harder for female pilots.

On long or cold-weather flights, the amount of gear and clothing made the maneuver nearly impossible, and pilots would sometimes have no choice but to relieve themselves in their flight suits.

In the AMXD, a cup for a man and a pad for a woman is strategically placed before the pilot dons a flight suit.

An instructional DVD tells pilots: "When the time comes to urinate, unzip the flight suit, remove the hose.... The control unit will pump the urine from the cup to the collection bag, where it will be chemically gelled."
Remind me not to touch the gel. ;) BTW, if you are interested in reading more of the bathroom news you just can't live without you can click here or here.

4 comments:

Mike said...

The life of a fighter pilot...so glorious!

Jack said...

You said it.

Gasquet said...

this is serious- father had stroke and we would like to bring him home. Bathroom issues are what is keeping this from happening. mom can't help with this. is there something out there that would help?

Anonymous said...

What about number 2?