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Altitude chamber training begins at the new 711th Human Performance Wing complex

Future flight surgeons begin an altitude chamber flight at the United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine (USAFSAM). The altitude chamber simulates the effects of high altitude on the human body. It is the latest USAFSAM class to transition to WPAFB from Brooks City-Base, Texas as part of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). (U.S. Air Force photo by Chris Gulliford)

Future flight surgeons begin an altitude chamber flight at the United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine (USAFSAM). The altitude chamber simulates the effects of high altitude on the human body. It is the latest USAFSAM class to transition to WPAFB from Brooks City-Base, Texas as part of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). (U.S. Air Force photo by Chris Gulliford)

Master Sergeant Michele Armstrong (foreground) guides the United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine’s (USAFSAM’s) altitude chamber flight at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB), Ohio. Airman Kristyn Gonzales (background) operates the altitude chamber. (U.S. Air Force photo by Chris Gulliford)

Master Sergeant Michele Armstrong (foreground) guides the United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine’s (USAFSAM’s) altitude chamber flight at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB), Ohio. Airman Kristyn Gonzales (background) operates the altitude chamber. (U.S. Air Force photo by Chris Gulliford)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Altitude chamber training for future flight surgeons began Monday, April 4, 2011 at the new 711th Human Performance Wing complex at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. It is the latest United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine class to transition to WPAFB from Brooks City-Base, Texas as part of the Base Realignment and Closure.

The altitude chamber simulates the effects of high altitude on the human body.

"This is a piece of training that all aviators must complete," explained Lieutenant Colonel Tony Wurmstein, chief of USAFSAM's Aerospace and Operational Physiology Branch. "It is essential to demonstrate for them what reduced pressure does to the body."

One of the main effects of reduced pressure on the body is hypoxia, which is a state of oxygen deficiency in blood cells and tissues sufficient to cause performance impairment.

Airman Christopher Lawrence, a physiology technician with USAFSAM's Aerospace and Operational Physiology Branch, says it is important for flight surgeons to experience hypoxia symptoms.

"We train flight surgeons in the altitude chamber so they know how to correct for problems that can occur during flight and be able to fly another day," he said.

The altitude chamber is also used to show students the effect of high altitude on night vision.

"We turn off the lights inside the chamber and conduct night vision demonstrations so the students can see firsthand how your night vision can be altered in the air compared with ground level," said Airman Lawrence.

Two altitude chambers are in the 711 HPW complex and several more will be brought in to conduct high-altitude research. The altitude chambers will also be open to military personnel in the region for refresher training.
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