Farnborough Air Sciences Museum

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Pressure Suits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As aircraft performance increased and high altitude flight became the experimental norm, there rose a need to protect Test Pilots and, later when high-altitude flight in the operational RAF became usual, to protect Squadron pilots.

RAE started to design and test pressure suits in WW2 for flight above 40,000 ft in Photo Reconnaissance Spitfires (before pressure cabins were used) and in post war times the need to fly at 50,000ft and above – with the V-Bomber fleet – became a necessity. This involved the design of Full Pressure Suits – essentially Space Suits – and this programme involved both RAF IAM and British Industry. It ran from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s and provided pragmatic and successful solutions, only to be torpedoed by the U2 Gary Powers accident and the cessation of high altitude operations for the RAF Bomber fleet.

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