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Flight Suits

as an instructor

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#1 cryesis

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 11:00

How do you guys feel about flight instructors wearing flight suits while working? Unnecessary or an added level of professionalism?



#2 pilot#476398

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 11:13

I don't think you necessessarily have to wear a flight suit, but when someone walks in to inquire about training, who are they going to approach, the guy in shorts and a t-shirt, or the guy dressed like a pilot?  For professionalism wear some kind of uniform.

 

Remember, you're competing for every student who comes through that door!


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#3 1Heliguy

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 13:23

Professionalism is a key factor in the trust placed in you by not only clients, but management as well.  Since they sign the paychecks, and forward their recommendations up the chain, so to speak, in flight careers, its worth it to wear a uniform.  Internally, a uniform may also help staff to remember the expectations of the work, especially in a career with such importance on safety and details.  I have responded to 4 helicopter crashes in my career before flying. Two involved post crash fires, and the occupants survival and/or quality of life was affected by their lack of flash fire protection.

 

New uniform components such as Fireresistant cotton clothing; cargo pants and shirts, BDU style uniforms, and slacks and polo's also now can be purchased in low maintenance safety versions.



#4 Retreating Brain Stall

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 13:29

It's called a "flight suite" so you wear it while flying! It serves a purpose and can be a form of protection if worn properly and with all the proper equipment in the event of the unlikely (PPE- personal protective equipment). I think it is ridiculous all the excuses I hear of its too hot or intimidating to students as well as the helmets subject. Call me stupid but it could be a life saver, and I rather utilize it to its full advantage. So feel free to compromise your safety/survivability for comfort or in fear of intimidating students that are trying to innocently kill you if you choose to disagree;)

#5 Wally

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 14:40

How do you guys feel about flight instructors wearing flight suits while working? Unnecessary or an added level of professionalism?

 

Silly, and uncomfortable.


Just a pilot (retired, so I have a LOT of time)...


#6 Gomer Pylot

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 18:51

Flight suits suck. Pure and simple. They're ok while you're in the cockpit, but most of us spend a lot more time outside the cockpit than in it. Outside, they're a total PITA, and I detest them. I detested them in the Army, and I still do. The old two-piece Nomex suits were worlds better, and any two-piece uniform is better than a flight suit. All the weight of everything you carry is on your shoulders, and I really hate having my sleeves picking up stuff from the floor of a public restroom. And if you wear a flightsuit, the sleeves will, sooner or later, be on a filthy floor. You can't take off your shirt to do anything. Sure you can tie the sleeves around your waist, but they won't stay there if you do anything physical, and I don't like dropping my trou in public, which is always a danger when you do that. In short, there are few things worse in aviation, IMO.
Best Regards,

Gomer

#7 rjl2001

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 20:27

Nomex flight suits are mandatory for the students and instructors at the flight school I'm flying with.  Obviously they state safety as the reason behind that.  Personally, I think the student should have a choice of wearing one, but I understand the reasoning.  


Semper Rotatus!

#8 avbug

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 21:20

There is no denying the safety factor of a fire-resistant flight suit.  I wear them on government-mandated missions.  On other types of flying, sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't.  

 

I wouldn't make fun of anyone who chooses to wear a helmet, or fire resistant clothing.  I'm much more intrigued by those who elect to wear flammable clothing around aircraft, such as polyester apparel.  Not a wise choice at all.

 

Unless one has executed an unplanned forced landing somewhere off field, possibly in unfriendly conditions, one may not fully appreciate the possibility, or the need for protective wear.  I have, and I do.  I don't know anyone who has had such an experience to dismisses the use of protective equipment.


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#9 Rupert

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Posted 19 April 2013 - 18:07

Flight suits and helmets offer limited protection, and, in the final assessment, may even contribute to accidents through discomfort and fatigue. Costumes.

 

Dress like the customer.

 

If the typical customer shows up in nice slacks, polished shoes, tailored shirt and a tie...wear that.

 

If the typical customer shows up in Levis and a flannel shirt...wear that.

 

When I have worked as a general flight instructor, I wore Levis, a uniform shirt with sown-in military pleats, running shoes and a company baseball cap.

 

When I have given private instruction, I modeled my clothes after the student.

 

Alternatively, if you hope flight instruction will serve as a launching pad for a corporate job, dress like a corporate pilot.



#10 avbug

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 03:37

I disagree.

 

I've been a corporate pilot.  I've flown airline operations, and international cargo.  I've flown back country work, fire work, law enforcement, instruction, combat operations, and a host of other flying, and they're all different, with different requirements.

 

I'll wear corporate attire when flying corporate, though I don't like flying corporate.  I'll wear mandated gear when flying other missions.  

 

I've had dress clothing made from nomex before; it wasn't distinguishable from other dress clothing, save for the price.  It was a lot more fire resistant, however, and in my opinion, well worth the cost.

 

Personal protective gear such a a flight suit provides a lot more protection than you might think, as does a helmet.  I've used them both, and they've saved my life.  I wouldn't be too quick to discount them.  I've heard the tired arguments about helmets and flight suits contributing to mishaps, but they're largely unfounded.  Drink more water.  Problem solved.  I've spent a lot of time in very hot cockpits in very hot places in long sleeved nomex and helmets, and any problem that might be perceived is strictly a comfort issue; one is still better off forcing hydration and wearing the protective gear.

 

Dress like a corporate pilot if you are a corporate pilot.  Not if you want to be a corporate pilot.  Dress in a military uniform if you're in the service; don't if you're not.  Dress for your circumstance, not for what you want to be.  If you want that, then become that, then dress like that.  



#11 SBuzzkill

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 13:27

You don't need to crash to catch on fire...  At least make sure to avoid polyester or something else that is going to melt to your skin.



#12 Counterrotate

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 21:36

Wear em every day.  Hate em every day.  But damn do they make me look good!  

 

In all seriousness...

 

In the event of a flash fire, proper protection makes all the difference in the world.  Seen it go both ways.  Crew virtually unharmed because their helmets and nomex suits and gloves protected them.  Seen others that crawled 20 feet away from the site of the crash and died from their burn wounds.  I know that's graphic but its the truth.  Whenever I think about how uncomfortable and ridiculous my flight suit is, I remember those bodies.  There are definitely cases where even nomex will not help you, but it is an extra layer of protection.  As far as uniforms go, the best I had it was when I did tours.  Khaki shorts and a white short sleeve dress shirt was about as good as it ever got for me, even though I thought I looked ridiculous with those epaulets.  



#13 avbug

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 23:00

Absolutely correct. 

 

I've put out a cabin fire before, in flight, by smothering it with a nomex jacket.

 

Polyester around aircraft is a bad idea.



#14 Rupert

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 10:58

Nomex doesn't work the way most people think it does.

 

Nomex doesn't wick fuel (nor perspiration); nomex doesn't support combustion; and, nomex doesn't melt. That said, nomex still burns in the presence of high heat. If you go down to the local fire department, you will find that they wear very thick nomex with substantial insulating padding underneath. The typically thin layer of nomex in a flight suit offers little protection beyond not melting.

 

Wool and Carhartt's FR clothing provide better protection, and a much higher level of comfort.

 

Wool and Carhartt FR don't wick fuel; don't support combustion; don't release additional heat when they do burn; and, they don't melt..

 

In the final assessment, uncomfortable clothing, meaning, clothing that contributes to fatigue, and thus an accident, has a higher probability of causing grief than a post-accident fire.

 

Tropical worsted wool feels so much better than nomex in hot climates. No comparison. And, in cold climates, both wool and Carhartt FR work much better than nomex.

 

Let's look at post-accident fires.

 

If you fly with gasoline, you have a much higher probability of a post accident fire. Explosive. Gasoline = bad stuff. I flew EMS for 28 years. Gasoline fires do not have happy endings. Let's just get rid of gasoline, eh? I'll vote for that.

 

If you fly with jet fuel, you have a much lower probability of a post accident fire; and especially so in helicopters (less probability of atomization of fuel in a typical helicopter "hard landing").

 

In the absence of atomization, when jet fuel catches fire, it burns hotter than gasoline but not as explosively.

 

This hotter fire means higher radiant heat. Exposed skin will burn in response to the radiant heat. You need a barrier. If you stay in the fire, without insulated padding under your clothes, you'll cook, regardless of the fire-resistant quality of the barrier textile. You just need a barrier that will protect you from radiant heat for the few seconds while you escape. If you can't escape in a few seconds, forget it. You'll cook.

 

I've seen people "cooked" in steam accidents, electrical accidents, and in petroleum-based fires. Not pretty.

 

So, wear a comfortable material that doesn't melt, doesn't wick, resists radiant heat for a few seconds.

 

Wool.

 

======

 

As for style of clothing, dress like the customer.

 

If you intend to move up in the world, dress like where you intend to go.

 

Act and look the role you eventually want to play. Wear the costume.

 

=====

 

As for fire (really, smoke) in flight, it almost always involves electricity. Remove the electricity and the smoke goes away. We've had this conversation before. Please keep it real.

 

In 44 years of flying, I know of only one fire in flight that led to the catastrophic failure of a helicopter airframe (others must exist, rare though), and that involved the combination of medical oxygen and fuel. Only football-sized pieces made it to the ground.

 

=====

 

I had extensive interviews with both of the two people who actually invented the first true flight helmet (the SPH-4).

 

These two men worked extensively with freshly dead cadavers (bizarre story) and one of them responded to many, many fatal helicopter accidents over an eight year period.

 

As a general statement, fatal helicopter accidents involve multiple fatal injuries. In those cases in which a helmet precluded a fatal head injury, the subject died from some other fatal injury. In other words, fatal head injuries rarely happen in isolation.

 

I prefer a helmet that Gentex will no longer sell to helicopter pilots (they've tried to get it back from me) because of a law suit involving a fatal head injury. F-16 fighter pilots and crop duster pilots wear this helmet. Pretty light. Nonetheless, if this helmet doesn't protect me, some other mechanism of injury will have killed me. Whenever the customer or my employer allows it (and no NVG requirement) I wear it. I'd rather wear a baseball cap.

 

I say, dress for comfort and appearance, and with non-melting and radiant heat barrier in mind, and otherwise try to stay as alert and fresh as possible.

 

Instead of surviving an accident, think about not having an accident in the first place.

 

And, yes, let's get rid of gasoline. The words "aviation" and "gasoline" should not occur in the same sentence.


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#15 Spike

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 20:21

How do you guys feel about flight instructors wearing flight suits while working? Unnecessary or an added level of professionalism?

 

You or your organization will need to define what they believe is “professional” and you should have a place to start….



#16 Spike

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 21:53

Oh, and being professional is a mindset, not a dress code….


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#17 Trans Lift

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 22:36

Wear a flight suit and helmet everyday. Don't mind it at all. They both fit well so are not uncomfortable at all. It's company policy. Being in a wire environment and often bonding onto live wires, the nomex is some protection in the event of a flash from going phase to phase or phase to ground. Not saying it would work but its better than nothing. Doing energized work we wear hot suits which are a steel thread/nomex blend. Now those things are uncomfortable!! Especially in the heat when you have to wear the gloves and socks.


Edited by Trans Lift, 24 April 2013 - 22:36.


#18 Flying Pig

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 14:19

How about the steel mesh thong? Dont think we dont know.
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#19 Flying Pig

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 14:19

double post

Edited by Flying Pig, 26 April 2013 - 14:20.


#20 Trans Lift

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 14:42

Oh yeah, how did I forget that?!!! :)






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