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July 22, 2021

Flying GA in a helmet

The question of flying a light, personal airplane in a helmet comes up once in a while. As it happens, I have some experience, which I'm going to outline as bullet points for future reference.

Pro:

  • You do not need sunglasses and your headset cups always contact your skull properly. You do not need to buy super expensive flying sunglasses with thin temples.
  • Your chance of head injury is decreased in certain types of crashes (funnily enough I tested that by experience when I flipped the Carlson and smacked the runway with my head). This is particularly welcome by solo backcountry guys.
  • You can fly airplanes with no interior padding in turbulence, like Cessna 162, where I bloodied my head quite well before the helmet times.
  • You know who of your fellow pilots are dumb and not to be trusted when they try to make pitiful, inept jokes regarding the matter about which they know nothing.
  • You never need to lift your glasses in order to look at backlit LCD displays in the panel. Just glance under the visor. So comfy. This only came about as iPads and the like proliferated. Obviously you can see the steam gauges through eyeglasses.

Cons:

  • Not all headphones are compatible with helmets, so you choice of modern ANR headsets is limited.
  • Either you carry an additional piece of luggage, or your flight bag is enormous with a separate compartment. This was always a sticking point for me more than anything, especially on ferry flights where you travel commercial with that helmet. Remember that you have to protect the visor and you don't want to check it in.
  • If you're tall, you run a risk of scratching canopies in many low wing GA airplanes.

As far as the choice of the helmet, Gentec is designed to save your head when you punch out of F-22. A Gallet helment is more appropriate, I think. But personally, I fly in David Clark K-10, because it's cheap.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at 11:01 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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