Before you fly, you do a routine safety check, but whenís the last time you did a safety check on what you need to wear during your flight? What you wear is what youíll be leaving your helicopter if you need to ditch so you need that equipment to be up to task. Here are some things to consider when shopping for your safety gear.
Life VestStarting back in 2017, the FAA required all Part 135 helicopter operators to have all occupants wear life preservers when a helicopter is operated beyond gliding distance from the shore. Even when itís not required, wearing a constant-wear life vest is a good idea. When purchasing a FAA approved life vest, you need to consider comfort as well as unimpaired ability to maneuver the plane during an emergency. Your life vest also needs to allow for full range of motion and fit well with harnesses, helmets and other required gear, with no interference. Youíll want to carry the weight of the vest on your shoulders, rather than the back of the neck, to reduce fatigue.
Flight SuitWhile flight suits arenít required, they do protect you from fires or other mishaps and keep you warm. Remember, even when flying in warm temperatures, the water may still be cold and hypothermia can set in. Suits are typically made from Nomex, which not only is more comfortable but also flame-resistant, breathable and waterproof. Pilots should look for long-sleeve Nomex suits that are sized to your measurements for best possible fit. Comfort is key here and youíll also want ease of getting in and out of the suit while still making sure the zipper doesnít cause any unnecessary interference with the rest of your equipment. High quality suits also can be outfitted with accessories to improve thermal performance including hoods, gloves, and boots.
Underneath your flight suit, pilots should also consider their undergarments to fully optimize the flight suitís thermal protection. Merino wool regulates your body temperature, ventilating hot vapor out and cool surrounding air in, while wicking away any sweat; keeping you cool and dry. Anti-bacterial and odor resistant, merino wool undergarments are up for the challenge of multiple flights!
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