Wednesday, May 21, 2008

New Relief for Pilots? It Depends...

Sorry, but we couldn't resist stealing that headline from Noah Shachtman at the Danger Room, who has more information on the latest in-flight relief gear for military aviators, including a photo of the undergarment.

We first wrote about the improved piddle pack more than a week ago, citing its availability as one of the great moments in aviation history. While our tongue was firmly-in-cheek when we made that claim, the issue of in-flight relief is a serious matter. As Mr. Shachtman notes, pilot attempts to relieve themselves (using current "piddle" technology) have been linked to at least two F-16 crashes. The pilots involved in those accidents were male; for female aviators, the process of emptying your bladder in a fighter cockpit is even more cumbersome.

On a historical note, we should note that piddle packs have been around, in one form or another, for decades. In fact, an earlier version of the device helped save a B-17 (and its crew) during World War II. The man who used the piddle pack as a fire-fighting tool won the Medal of Honor for his exploits, although the impromptu extinguisher isn't mentioned in his citation.

Today's quiz: name the bomber crew member whose timely use of a piddle pack helped save his aircraft and made him a hero. Hint: he's the same guy who was on KP when Secretary of War Stimson showed up at his base, to award him the MOH. That prompted a bit of stalling, until the recipient could be located and change into his dress uniform.

4 comments:

Steve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve said...

Snuffy Smith
http://www.homeofheroes.com/wings/part2/06_smith.html

gatorbait said...

my favorite too, next to jay zeamer.. Maynard(Snuffy) Smith

Dan said...

don't astronauts have integrated waste-management systems in their flight suits? I was reading something else about this that said this new system works out to something like 35 bucks flight. that's like 500 dollar toilet seat level of absurdity. doesn't cost anyone else 35 for number one. the demands of long duration flights is nothing new, why does seem like such a hard problem now?