OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --
The 51st Operations Support Squadron’s Aerospace Physiology Training team opened the first hypoxia familiarization trainer (HFT) on the Korean Peninsula for military personnel April 1, 2022.
The HFT combats the harmful effects of altitude physiological emergencies that aircrew undergo during flight and provides them a realistic approach on how to recover from such emergencies.
“The hypoxia familiarization trainer (HFT) is a modifiable, multiple-airframe, static training console used in conjunction with a Reduced Oxygen Breathing Device (ROBD),” said Maj. Sharon Sherlock, 51st Operations Support Squadron aerospace physiologist. “It trains pilots and aircrew members to recognize and respond to hypoxia symptoms in a safe, controlled environment,” said Capt. Josh ‘Shadow’ Burress, 51st Operations Support Squadron flight commander.
Hypoxia consists of having low levels of oxygen in the blood and can effect aircrew in a variety of ways including shortness of breath, sweating and light headedness making them unable to perform at full capability.
“The training is critical to the mission because it helps identify our signs of hypoxia. Everyone feels the effects differently, understanding your symptoms helps you combat the effects. When flying at higher altitudes, you are on the lookout for those symptoms and you are primed to react with what we learn in training. The training undoubtedly helped the Air Force proactively save lives and aircraft.”
The newly added HFT enables aircrew to remain on the Korean peninsula instead of going temporary duty travel (TDY) to the nearest HFT to receive training. This cost effective effort helps increase mission readiness.
“The new trailer saves pilots’ time. I can accomplish the training in one to two hours in the morning and still fly in a sortie that afternoon,” said Burress. “The alternative to that was a multi-day TDY, where I was taken away from my job and the flying schedule.”
Having an accessible HFT grants pilots and aircrew access to expedited training, which enables them continue their normal day to day duties with no delay.
“We strive to provide training to our aircrew in a timely manner, which is why adding the HFT/ROBD hypoxia asset to our inventory is a game changer. These trainers on bases throughout the Air Force will save the service money, especially with respect to eliminating the need to send aircrew TDY out of the country to preserve their physiological currency,” said Sherlock.