Smarter Every Day: Hypoxia

I love this guy’s videos. This seems apropos for today’s release of DCS: F-5E


An interesting video, but he didn’t cover a couple things. For one, there’s a lot better training out there than the chamber.

The chamber is nice, but looking at your fingers to see they’re changing color or doing pattycake isn’t really applicable in a jet. Now we have training that will put you in a simulator, with your normal mask on, and deprive you of oxygen while you’re being asked to do everyday tasks. I found it to be much better training than the chamber.

The other thing is he only covers hypoxic hypoxia. There’s a few other types that can get you, as well, that have to do with contaminants in your body or what you’re breathing. I’ve been hypoxic before on OBOGS and never went above 9,000.


I had the pleasure of attending the altitude chamber at Shaw AFB a decade ago. The flight surgeon gave a fantastic ground school presentation that lasted about an hour discussing the physiology and it was really well done. Then they put us in the chamber so we could observe our own personal hypoxia characteristics. I can’t remember what altitude they took us to for the rapid decompression…I know for civilians it was less altitude compared to the military guys…maybe FL240 or something.

They dumped the chamber, which was cool. Then they had us take off our mask and see how we did. My task was to count backwards from 100 by 3s. I told the instructor I couldn’t do that at sea level…lol… I did pretty well for a couple minutes and then started to wander. To me though, the most startling part was the color wheel demonstration. When hypoxic, they put a color wheel in front of you that has all the colors of the rainbow on it, and it turns all shades of gray. Then they have you put the O2 mask back on and instantly as you take your first breath the colors pop back into vividness. It is really cool.