Instructor pilots help F-35 pilots dress for success

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Sara Csurilla
  • 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
The world of technology is constantly changing and to keep up with the times, the Air Force is making major changes in flight suits with the help of Laughlin pilots.

One of these changes is the F-35 Lightning II, a single-seat, single-engine, stealth-capable military strike fighter. The F-35 will replace multiple aircraft in the Air Force inventory as soon as 2012, according to Teresa Metzger with the Joint Strike Fighter program at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.

Metzger was here to use Laughlin's pilots as part of the research required to design F-35 aircrew life-support equipment, particularly the flight suit.

In their quest to perfect the flight suits, members from the 711th Human Performance Wing and JSF program at Wright-Patterson AFB, Lockheed Martin and RFD Beaufort stopped at Laughlin to survey and measure 50 volunteer instructor pilots and students for the new flight suit.

"We wanted to fit many different types of people, so we could get a really good idea of how these flight suits should fit all people, tall, short, male or female," said Dr. Greg Zehner, 711th HPW anthropologist. "The measurements will also help with further research for helmets, gloves and any other type of equipment the F-35 pilots may need."

Over a span of two weeks at Laughlin, the developers set up their study site in Fellowship Hall and had volunteers come in one at a time.

When the volunteers came in, the team first measured their body from head to foot, had them try on their current flight suit and then had them try on different sizes of the model F-35 flight suit.

While the volunteers had on each suit, they were then instructed to do different movements such as lifting their leg or act as if they were tying their shoe. During this process they would tell the team how comfortable the suit was when performing the task by a number scale they were given.

"Our studies help us to answer many questions we have regarding this new flight suit including, Are there enough sizes to fit every body type? Are there too many sizes and how many of each size will we need in the future?" Dr. Zhener said. "Comparing the two suits and surveying the people who wear them will eventually answer these questions."