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USF professor gives historical look at physiology and WWII air war
Date:4/11/2008

BETHESDA, Md. (April 11, 2008) World War II-era physiologists helped solve physiological problems related to flight, research that helped pave the way for an Allied victory in the air, according to Jay B. Dean, of the University of South Florida College of Medicine.

Dr. Dean prepared a presentation on his historical research for Monday, April 7, at the Experimental Biology conference in San Diego. His presentation is entitled High altitude physiology research and training platforms used by American physiologists during World War II: Innovative altitude chambers and high flying bomber aircraft.

Dr. Dean is writing a book on the stories behind the advances the Allies made in aviation physiology research during the war. To hear an extended audio interview on this topic with Dr. Dean, go to www.lifelines.tv and click on Episode 8.

Some early highlights of World War II Aviation Research:

  • Dr. Randy Lovelace of the Mayo Clinic, a leader in aviation physiology research during the war, studied the opening shock of a parachute by jumping from a plane at 40,200 feet on a static line, which opened his parachute immediately upon jumping. The force of deceleration as Lovelace left the speeding B-17 and his chute opened, blew off his gloves and knocked him unconscious. One of his hands suffered frostbite as a result of the jump, but he recovered.

  • Physiologists later experimented with 150-pound dummies to determine opening shocks at varying heights, from planes traveling varying speeds.

  • Still later, physiologists trained a 145-pound St. Bernard dog, Major, to parachute -- simulating the jump of a man. Major wore protective clothing and an oxygen mask and dog paddled during his descent.

Flight Still in Infancy

At the outset of the war, aircraft were neither pressurized nor heated, but air crews flew as high as possible to
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Contact: Christine Guilfoy
cguilfoy@the-aps.org
301-634-7253
American Physiological Society
Source:Eurekalert

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