Flight Helmets?

Discussion in 'Rules and Regulations / Flight Safety / Better Pil' started by TXFlyGuy, Jun 16, 2019.

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  1. Aug 25, 2019 #121

    SVSUSteve

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    Agreed.

    It was just a different world (thankfully one rapidly going away) where having a friend or two “go west” every so often was just part of the hobby. Unfortunately we still run into that mindset with folks who don’t think “classic designs” should be improved. My hat is tipped to Tony because while I have my misgivings about certain things, we wouldn’t be here without him. He has my respect and doubly so because as his era wound down, he started to espouse the improvements coming down the pike. That included pointing out that it’s not an insult to a designer to make improvements especially if it involves safety.
     
  2. Aug 25, 2019 #122

    SVSUSteve

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    I will have to check out the book. It’s not all that useful for the present project but might be for a later design. Thanks!
     
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  3. Aug 25, 2019 #123

    BJC

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    A good friend, neighbor, multi aircraft homebuilder, best homebuilt award winner, and fellow former aerobatic competitor, can list thirty-something pilots that he knew personally who died in airplane crashes.


    BJC
     
  4. Aug 25, 2019 #124

    TXFlyGuy

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    But so many accidents did not have to happen. There have been about 6 fatalities in P-51’s over the past few years. Very sad. And these were avoidable. Flight helmets would have been no help.
     
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  5. Aug 26, 2019 #125

    SVSUSteve

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    Last time I bothered to count, I’d lost 28 friends or acquaintances (including and mostly medical helicopter crews) including the person who gave me my first flying lesson.

    As TXFlyGuy put it, there’s a difference between risk and daring natural selection to claim you by using substandard design, methods and materials as was the norm for the early homebuilt community. Or, as was the case with the more recent Dan Lloyd RV debacle. I knew Dan and liked him (for the most part...his bullheaded stupidity drove me up a wall) so his loss despite the best efforts of a lot of people who saw the flaws in his build tore me up something horrid.
     
  6. Aug 26, 2019 #126

    Aesquire

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    Specious argument. Helmets didn't save the crew of Columbia either.

    My idol in hang gliding died of a bolt through the skull. In a crash he would have lived through otherwise. Acquaintances in hang gliding a century later have died of the exact same cause. Is it a fluke when it keeps happening?

    I fully support your right to not wear a helmet. Pro choice across the board on principle. I feel free to mock those who so choose.

    But " helmets won't save me if ( obvious thing ) I crash a mustang in a stall spin" ( or whatever ) fails logic tests. "Messes up my hair" is a better excuse. I'll mock both.
     
  7. Aug 26, 2019 #127

    Dana

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    I agree that the homebuilt scene has evolved from the simpler day when Tony was writing his books, and many improvements have been made. And we’ve all lost friends in this game. But (serious question, not being argumentative) how many homebuilt fatalities can be directly attributed to what we now are calling “substandard”? Certainly design and construction defects claimed lives then as well as now. Is it a substantial percentage of total accidents, and how much has that percentage changed in recent years? (paging Ron W…)


    As for helmets, it’s about risk vs. reward. Most of us here fly primarily for pleasure. Part of any pleasurable experience is being comfortable, and for many of us, wearing a helmet detracts from being [as] comfortable, so it reduces both risk and reward. If safety is your primary concern, you wouldn’t fly at all (even with a helmet, flying is more dangerous than driving), or you might even wear a helmet while driving your car. The point is that it’s not a simple yes or no decision, everybody chooses where they’re most comfortable on that continuum.

    In the Cessnas I learned to fly in and the Taylorcraft I had, I wore no helmet at all. The comfort cost of the helmet outweighed the perceived risk. For some, the cost may include the derision of fellow (non helmet wearing) pilots.

    When I was flying paramotors, where relatively low speed impacts were not unlikely but a heavy bulky helmet would have been uncomfortable, I wore a light mountain bike helmet. A compromise. Some guys chose full face helmets, and yes, I know of [much less likely] accidents where a full face helmet would have prevented serious injury, had the pilot worn one, but for most paramotor pilots the discomfort of a full face helmet outweighs the risk of the kind of accident where it would help.

    When I was flying ultralights, where I sat out in front of everything a head impact was somewhat less likely than a paramotor but likely to be more serious, I wore a heavier Comtronics flying helmet. The perceived risk outweighed the comfort cost.

    In the biplanes I’ve been flying lately, sitting inside the cockpit where a head impact is quite unlikely in anything but a very serious crash (biplanes effectively have a built in roll cage), I wear the [much more comfortable] traditional soft leather helmet. Though I did wear the Comtronics hard helmet for the first few flights in my first biplane due to the higher risk of the unfamiliar airplane.

    I also wonder... in crashes where the cockpit stays intact and the shoulder harness does its job, i.e. no head impact against anything (as in my Starduster crash), the added mass/inertia of a helmet may well cause an injury. Somebody must have studied such a thing?
     
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  8. Aug 26, 2019 #128

    litespeed

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    I have always found the helmets I choose to be very comfortable and did not restrict vision in any meaningful way. Keep shopping till you find a comfortable one.
    Everyone's head is a bit different and some helmets are crap others like a silk glove.

    If your brain is not worth the price of a comfortable helmet, it is your choice.
    Seriously we have too many on the planet already.

    We will happily give you a Darwin award posthumously.

    But please do it so the cleanup is easy and you don't hurt anyone else.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2019
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  9. Aug 26, 2019 #129

    Aesquire

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    I'd like to clarify my sarcasm. :)

    It never occurred to me to put on a helmet in a Citabria. In hindsight, planes like Cubs and Kitfoxes cry out for head protection, like a Shelby Cobra. That's a car that you can step on a pedal, and knock yourself out against the minimalist roll bar. Go ahead and laugh, it has happened.

    In a Sailplane, the fashion is these silly floppy hats, and that's because you need sun protection under that canopy, and it's soft so you don't scratch the precious plexiglass. Usually not enough room for a helmet anyway.

    Under a hang glider, you want to hear, It's your primary speed indicator, so half helmets were the thing early on, and only later did face protection become available. Most of the guys I knew that thought helmets were for sissies are dead now. Some from old age. It was natural to wear one for me.

    My mother complained I did entirely too many sports that required a helmet.

    Helmet selection is simple, and hard. First you pick the features you think you want. Headsets, face protection, oxygen masks, whatever. Then you have to try them on. Every manufacturer uses a different head form, and people have square heads, skinny side to side, etc. so that lid that your buddy loves might have hot spots that drive you nuts. And if you can't stand it, you won't wear it, and gear you don't have can't save you.

    You have to not lie to yourself. If it's a vision issue, try another helmet. If I'm unsympathetic here, I wear glasses. Life is a vision issue. But I grok the need for peripheral vision.
    Doesn't fit? try another. Too hot? open a window. I've heard every excuse ever made to not wear a lid. Yes, the extra mass can break your neck. So what? The odds are so heavily in favor of saving than harming that that excuse is just lying to yourself. And that's the basic equation you use across the board with safety gear.
     
  10. Aug 26, 2019 #130

    Wanttaja

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    Hark...it's the Ronsignal!
    [​IMG]
    I'm an instructor on a DOT course for homebuilt accident investigation, here are a couple of my charts that might be appropriate.

    The first plots the number of builder-error cases in the homebuilt fleet over the past 20 years.
    [​IMG]
    As you can see, the trend is basically flat, if not a minor decrease. Yearly homebuilt production has dropped a bit over this time period, from ~1200 in 2000 to ~850 last year.

    The second shows the systems affected by builder error:
    [​IMG]
    Both of these cover all accidents, not just fatal ones. As you can see, over half the builder-error accidents affect the powerplant, either directly or by starving it of fuel. These sorts of cases are pretty survivable; after all, we all train to perform engine-out landings. They're both under the average homebuilt fatality rate.

    Structure, though...brrr. About 62% of builder-error structural accidents are fatal.

    Overall, though, less than 2% of all homebuilt accidents involve failures of the structure.

    Ron Wanttaja
     
  11. Aug 27, 2019 #131

    SVSUSteve

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    I attended the autopsy of someone who actually used the "I don't wear a helmet because it will mess my hair up" to me when I pointed out the lack of rollover protection in his taildragger.

    He also argued that a roll bar would "mess up the looks" of his aircraft and reduce "visibility". Not that anyone whose mother wasn't a great horned owl could see at the angle obstructed by a roll bar. Keep in mind that he DID NOT install the roll bar that the design called for. He apparently "cut it down" for whatever reason.
    His head being reduced to a pulpy mass (we found a couple of his lower molars embedded in the tissues just above the supraclavicular notch* to give you some idea of what a nose over and 30+ yard skid on a hard packed surface will do) pretty much achieved both mussing his hair and ruining the "looks" of his aircraft. His wife was in the rear seat and, being five foot tall and restrained with a four-point harness, survived with only a scalp laceration (from a piece of plexi from the shattered canopy), some contusions, and nightmares for a lifetime.

    *-The curved bit at the top of the breast bone
     
  12. Aug 27, 2019 #132

    Speedboat100

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    Off topic but helmets related...I went to a 200 km bike trip and I have never before witnessed a collision in a group before..two guys fell into march ditch which was very deep ( 3 m ) head first with their bikes...and both heard the helmet brake from the impact. Both were able to carry on...they were exhausted as the trip had been 150 km so far...and the other collided the rear wheel of the other. I bet you have to buy a new helmet after it had been used...so to say.
     
  13. Aug 27, 2019 #133

    litespeed

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    If a pushbike helmet breaks on impact, it has done it job.

    That is exactly what it is meant to do when high loads are experienced. First the foam compresses then if the force is enough it breaks apart. All that force would have been transferred directly to the skull. Instead the helmet has taken the big hit.
     
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  14. Aug 27, 2019 #134

    RSD

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    Yes - motorsport at the highest levels, where they now use the HANS device to limit the forward movement of the head in high G frontal impacts. But remember - this is in cars that have extensive rollcages or crumple zones/driver survival cells etc - which planes don't have. The size of an accident where the inertia of your head hyper-extending your neck is the only thing that is going to kill you is much greater in a racecar than a GA/experimental aircraft accident. I think that if an aircraft accident is big enough that your helmet causes hyper-extension of your neck then chances are you are already dead three other ways due to the lack of accident survivability built into an aeroplane. Try mucking up your landing like this in your 172/Long-Ez/RV and see if you walk away
     
  15. Aug 27, 2019 #135

    BJC

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    Plus, HAN restraint devices, combined with the lateral helmet constraints, have resulted in a very constrained field of view that would be unacceptable in a sport aircraft.


    BJC
     
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  16. Aug 27, 2019 #136

    SVSUSteve

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    Back in my EMS days, we had a call for a motorcycle crash. Getting out of the ambulance, there was a helmet split into three pieces strewn across the road. I turned to my partner and commented that this was going to be a bad one.

    Turns out....I was wrong. The guy survived with a bunch of road rash (bad enough to require skin grafting in a couple of spots), a broken arm, broken ankle, some cracked ribs, a lot of bruises and a concussion. He was awake and talking on the scene. Granted, he was doing repetitive questioning ("Who are you? Where am I? What happened? Who are you? Where am I? What happened? etc etc etc) but that's to be expected when you bounce your helmeted head off a road at 50+ mph after hitting a deer at 70+ mph. I have no idea how he managed to stay on the bike after the first impact and managed to lay it down.
     
  17. Aug 27, 2019 #137

    litespeed

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    Sometimes you get real lucky in the way you hit the animal and its size makes a big difference.

    Some bikes are also a lot harder to knock off track than others from experience.

    Some riders are also much better at not doing the hold of death on the bars or brakes as the hit approaches.

    But yes it is a good trick.

    Having struck a Kangaroo on a bike, at lower speed and staying upright, I know the grip of death is not your friend. My previously above detailed bird strike in the face is also a good example, you have to be semi relaxed at the controls and allow the inherent stability of a two wheel machine to be your advantage.

    Some tend to fixate on the obstacle and forget to keep riding the machine- same as pilots failing to fly the aircraft all the way to the ground and stopped when stuff happens.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2019
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  18. Aug 28, 2019 #138

    SVSUSteve

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    This is how I will picture you from now on.
     
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  19. Aug 28, 2019 #139

    SVSUSteve

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    Pardon my French but that’s complete bull****. People used the “restricted field of view” argument when de Haven and company started pushing for shoulder harnesses. It was a facile argument then and remains so in this setting.

    If you have seriously restricted movement from the lateral restraints, you have them pulled too tight. If it’s properly adjusted you should have enough slack in them to look almost completely left and right. They are designed to restrict head rotation when a driver’s head is as far forward as the device allows. The drivers have to be able to look left and right just like a pilot does and for the same reason (to avoid hitting anything).
     
  20. Aug 28, 2019 #140

    SVSUSteve

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    There’s a lot of data on the subject from Army aviation and auto racing. It can cause an injury but it’s vastly outweighed by benefits. An airbag seatbelt (on the shoulder harnesses etc)or a HANS type device would be my suggestions. The problem in many crashes is actually the chin hitting the chest wall (think Dale Sr).

    As for non-pilot passengers, there’s a really simple solution: rear facing seats.
     
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