DRESSING FOR ALTITUDE
The definitive story of pressure suits began long ago and has involved a great many people to obtain the present state of the art as this book well chronicles. Many of these people were visionaries who anticipated the need for such highly specialized equipment long before it could actually be employed in any practical application. A remarkable number of pressure suit designs were developed early on, the vast majority of which never made it into flight, amounting to little more than science projects. Nonetheless, these early “experiments” informed later work, which led to practical pressure suits when they were needed for high altitude flight.
All successful pressure suit designs have been the result of efforts to address a specific need in a specific application, beginning with Wiley Post’s pressure suit designed for use in his Lockheed Vega, the Winnie Mae. Long considered the granddaddy of modern pressure suits, interestingly, Post’s suit was employed principally for protection from hypoxia rather than decompression sickness, since his Lockheed Vega’s altitude ceiling was 50,000 feet.