Physiological Support Division

(PSD)

"BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH"

Tucked away in a corner of the flight-line area sits Bldg. 1029, home of the 9th Physiological Support Squadron and one of the most unique operations in the Air Force. The building houses the Aerospace Physiological Training Flight, an 18 member flight entrusted with the lives of the pilots who fly the U-2 and in the past SR-71 Blackbird crew members. 

As Beale is known as the world's premier high altitude intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance organization,
PSPTS  plays an important role in providing physiological support to Beale's present day U-2 pilots. 
Physiological SuPporT Squadron... Support is abbreviated SPT
9th

PHYSIOLOGICAL

SUPPORT SQUADRON

1993- Present

9th

PHYSIOLOGICAL

SUPPORT SQUADRON

PSD

Lt Col "WOODY"

Thanks Woody

The Aerospace Physiological Training Flight ( APTF  ) acquaints pilots and other aircrew with the physiological hazards of high flights by training more than 800 aircrew members each year on topics including oxygen equipment, cabin pressurization, fatigue, stress, rapid and slow decompression and hypoxia.  The human performance division of the flight focuses on teaching in a classroom environment. APTF members train aircrew about possible physical and mental affects during flight such as hypoxia, which is a condition pilots are susceptible to at high altitudes without oxygen other topics include fatigue, stress, situational awareness,  ergonomics. and give briefings on human performance to minimize the accidents that can occur as a result of these situations.

After pilots receive the briefings they prepare for high altitude training in the flight chamber. 
To help combat the dangers of high flight, all pilots preparing to fly are fitted with custom suits, largely resembling what is commonly known as a space suit, which regulates the pressure on the body at high altitudes. Three APTF physiological support staff help the pilot in suiting up, and then perform several inspections on the suit to check for air leaks. Two people are suiting the pilot while one person supervises to ensure no mistakes are made. 

Once the pilot is suited up, they breathe 100 percent pure oxygen for up to one hour. The oxygen is used to cool the body down inside the suit. Pilots then are then hooked up to liquid oxygen coolers which they carry with them to the chamber or aircraft. 

The APTF also has a maintenance division to ensure proper function of the high-altitude chamber. This chamber simulates the different air compressions that a pilot may feel at different altitudes., the six-person chamber at Beale has achieved an altitude of 130,000 feet. In order to allow the chamber to achieve these altitudes flight maintenance personnel perform numerous inspections weekly, as well as any time a flight is scheduled. 

Prepping and inspection includes starting the vacuum pumps used to simulate the altitudes; turning on the oxygen flow to the chamber; making sure instruments are working properly and checking for cracks and leaks in windows and seals. Maintenance must also inspect the safety equipment used in the chamber, such as oxygen masks and helmets. Once the inspection is complete and emergency checklists are in place, the chamber is ready for flight. 
 The actual chamber flight is where all divisions of the APTF come together as one. While a pilot is inside the chamber, administrative personnel are equipped with headsets and flight plans instructing the pilots on what is about to happen. Maintenance professionals are on hand to operate the chamber and keep it functioning properly, while support technicians are inside the chamber showing pilots how to properly use their equipment.  Usually  pilots are taken up to 75,000 feet to give them confidence in their equipment,
 

Pilots are taken up slowly and monitored at different altitudes. A highlight of the chamber flight is the rapid climb portion. Pilots are taken from an altitude of around 25,000 feet, and shot up to an altitude of around 70,000 feet in a matter of one second. When this happens, the pilot's pressure suit expands rapidly to keep the pressure on the body at an altitude around 36,000 feet. If not for the specially designed suit, the pilot's blood would start to boil at around 60,000 feet,
Once the chamber flight is over, all equipment is inspected again to make sure everything is working properly, and pilots are escorted to their aircraft. APTF life support Airmen strap the pilots in and perform one final inspection of safety equipment. 

 
 
BEALE A.F.B PSD
 
The diamond patch was introduced in the late 70's when the U-2 joined the Beale family.  At that time, PSD personnel still wore hospital whites but were also allowed to wear the green flight jacket- odd combination but that was the authorized uniform through the 80's and up until about 1991.  The diamond patch was worn on the left shoulder and the Strategic Air Command patch was on the front of the jacket.  These patches were not worn on the whites, although PSD was authorized to sew cloth names tapes, 'US Air Force' tapes and rank insignia on the white shirt (to prevent any metal parts from entering the cockpit).
The Instructor designation, those that were certified to deliver platform instruction in topics such as egress, survival skills, and all physiological training curricula were authorized the unique 'Instructor' designation.  
PHYSIOLOGICAL 

SUPPORT DIVISION

INSTRUCTOR

 I HAVE IT
PHYSIOLOGICAL 

SUPPORT DIVISION

INSTRUCTOR

PHYSIOLOGICAL

SUPPORT SQUADRON

 

PHYSIOLOGICAL

SUPPORT SQUADRON

PHYSIOLOGICAL

SUPPORT DIVISION

 

WANTED

 

WANTED

 I HAVE IT  I HAVE IT
 

PHYSIOLOGICAL

SUPPORT SQUADRON

 

5 RS

PSPTS

BLACKCATS

 

9th SRW

DET 2 PSD

BLACKCATS

 

 

WANTED

 

Doug & Charlene Barnard
TROUTDALE AERODROME

WANTED

 I HAVE IT  
   
Believed  used at Edwards/Palmdale as part of the test cell

CONFIRMATION REQUIRED

Believed from Laughlin and used until the move to D-M In the late -60s???

CONFIRMATION REQUIRED

   
 I HAVE IT  I HAVE IT    

 

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