Article contributed by Dr Graham Rood
The FAST Collection of Flying Clothing, described officially as Aircrew Equipment Assemblies (AEA), has more than 250 items of protective assemblies for aircrew. These include a full range of aircrew coveralls, partial & full pressure suits, 'Mae Wests', 'g' suits, flying helmets, PECs boots, gloves etc - right from the early days through to the present.
Throughout the major development phases of flying clothing, Farnborough has been at the forefront of research and development into this topic. The work was covered by a combination of the Human Engineering science and engineering research and development by RAE Mechanical Engineering and Human Engineering Departments and by the medical and physiological development and lab and flight-testing of the RAF Institute of Aviation Medicine (IAM).
The collection has virtually the full range of production prototype Full Pressure Suits that were being developed in the mid 1950's and an excellent RAE Type B Full Pressure Suit, along with other RAE prototypes, that were being developed for high-altitude flight in the V-bombers and were to be tested in the Victor B2 at A&AEE Boscombe Down. After the cessation of the Full Pressure Suit research, the later developments of partial pressure garments combined with anti-g suits and air ventilated cooling are kept in the collection, and this type of AEA was common in Lightning squadrons.
The range of flying helmets includes all of the types from the Mk1 and 'G' helmet inner through to the current Mk 4, as well as the range of Taylor Pressure Helmets (again used in Lightning operations) and a number of experimental helmets.