Skip to main content

Military Health System

The Need for Speed Requires Intense Training

Image of  Military personnel conducts routine ops in US 3rd Fleet. Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) 2nd Class Kayla Pettit, from Charlotte, N.C., signals an F/A-18E Super Hornet, assigned to the “Vigilantes” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 151, as it launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) June 21, 2022. Abraham Lincoln Strike Group is conducting routine operations in the U.S. 3rd Fleet in the Pacific Ocean.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Education & Training | Physical Fitness

This summer's blockbuster movie showcases some amazing feats by military aviators, pushing the envelope beyond 10 Gs and incredible combat maneuvers.

But, initial military aviation training focuses not just on the Gs, but learning to control an aircraft, while also understanding the physiology of acceleration forces on the body.

Being able to maneuver an aircraft while withstanding high levels of gravitational forces, or G-forces, is a key component to training for combat aviation. But mishap prevention and survival, and enhancing and sustaining performance all play a role.

If you've ever been on a rollercoaster, you've felt a minimal amount of the G-forces and the effects the acceleration that aviators experience.

For military aviators, their training requires that they learn how to deal with sometimes severe G-forces and negative G-forces that change rapidly, especially in combat operations. Those G-forces affect all aviators to some degree, whether they fly fixed wings, jets, turboprop aircraft or helicopters.

G-Forces

Military aviators first learn the basics of the flight physiology and its impact on the human cardiovascular system during the lecture portion of their training with aerospace physiology personnel.

Next, these aviators learn how to avoid or overcome what is called G-induced loss of consciousness, also known as GLOC.

"That's when the blood leaves your brain. After about five seconds, you're lights out," said Navy Cmdr. Timothy Welsh, who is the director of the Aviation Survival Training Center, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, part of the Naval Survival Training InstituteNaval Survival Training Institute.

To combat GLOC, military aviators learn the anti-G straining maneuver, which is a series of isometric abdominal and leg muscle contractions that help to keep blood flowing up toward the heart and brain and not downward.

Aviators are also taught breathing techniques that are a primary method of resisting GLOC.

In the Navy, aviators are taught the Hick maneuver. The term alludes to the sounds the pilot makes while saying the word Hick as they breathe in and out.

The Air Force also teaches a respiratory component, which means "every three seconds, we're going to do a rapid half-second exchange of air where we want to move the equal amount of air out and right back in," explained Air Force Maj. Stuart Sauls, who is the acceleration training branch chief in the Air Force Research LaboratoryAir Force Research Laboratory 711th Human Performance Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force BaseWright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio.

"We want pilots to do a very calm breath hold because that allows them to control their air and their chest pressure much better," said Sauls.

In the respiratory component, "air exchanges briefly drop pressure around the heart to allow for that blood flow to continue properly, he said. "Then pilots have to get that air right back in and block it back off in the lungs so that we can get pressure back because, if they don't, they can lose consciousness."

Pressure suits are another way for aviators to reduce the amount of blood going into their extremities under G-forces. These are worn on the lower limbs and the abdomen.

Pressure suits also have a "tactile function" as they start to inflate, Welsh explained.

Military personnel exits aircraft centrifuge
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joe Pick, 1st Combat Camera Squadron, exits the centrifuge at the 711th Human Performance Wing, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio, April 5, 2021.

Training Includes Centrifuges

In the Air Force, undergraduate pilots begin flight training on the T-6 single prop airplane - so they can experience moderate G-forces.

The next step is the T-38 trainer for fighter aircraft. Before pilots can train in that aircraft they go to AFRL in Dayton for tests of exposure to severe G-forces at the only DOD human-rated centrifuge.Wright Patterson News

The centrifuge can produce up to nine Gs, or nine times the normal force of gravity, to measure the student's ability to counteract the effects of G-forces to prevent GLOC.

Jet aviators must be able to sustain sudden changes in pressure and altitude at speeds approaching or exceeding the speed of sound and gravitational forces up to nine times the normal pull (9Gs). If an Air Force student aviator is assigned to F-15s, F-16s, F-22s or F-35s, they go back to Wright-Patterson AFB for more centrifuge training qualification.

Naval aviators get centrifuge testing at Brooks City Base in San Antonio, Texas. That centrifuge can produce more than seven-and-a-half Gs with various onset rates, Welsh said.

Both the Air Force and Navy also have a "low fidelity simulator" that connects an aviator's oxygen mask to a box "that scrubs oxygen out of the air they're breathing, and increases the amount of nitrogen they're breathing. They become hypoxic, meaning they lack of adequate oxygen levels to perform," Welsh explained. The pilots learn emergency procedures to overcome various physiological episodes that could cause incapacitation.

Water Survival Training

The highest risk training done by the Navy is water survival training, Welsh said. That is a whole day of learning how to prevent panic and to stay calm in extreme situations. "The primary objective of our water survival training is water comfort and controlling your fear," Welsh said.

In the water, instructors flip aviators upside down, blindfold them in a dunker while they're in their full gear – flight suits, boots, survival helmets, and a life preserver. The aviators also learn swimming strokes, and how to hold on to reference points.

One of the most difficult training drills is when their life preserver fails to inflate, Welsh said. In that situation, the pilots have to tread water with all their gear on and manually inflate the life preserver.

Nutrition and Exercise to Optimize Performance

The military trainers teach aviators about proper nutrition and exercise to optimize performance.

"Much like maintaining an aircraft, it's maintaining your body," Welsh said.

"If you don't give your body the proper amount of fuel, the right types of fuel, meaning calories, or the right types of food groups," pilots' bodies will not be able to stand up to a barrage of high G-force maneuvers, he said.

Low blood glucose levels can also impact G-force performance, Sauls said. Proper hydration and enough sleep to combat fatigue are also necessary, because human factors are the biggest cause for aviation mishaps, Welsh said.

The Air Force relies on lower body and core strength training. That means "we're going to think heavier weight, lower repetitions. Things like squats, lunges, and deadlifts really build up that base, improve that frame," Sauls said.

"And then from a cardiovascular standpoint, to best mirror the operational environment, we would lean more toward high-intensity interval training, sprint intervals, circuit training, only get a heart rate up for a short period, then rest and repeat."

Some bases are now hiring dietitians and conditioning coaches, Sauls added. The 19th Air Force19th Air Force at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, which oversees Air Force pilot training, has created formal instruction on how pilots can improve their diet and exercise.

The Army Aviation Center of ExcellenceArmy Aviation Center of Excellence is the Army Aviation Branch's training and development center, located at Fort Rucker, Alabama.

USAACE trains and develops "agile and adaptive" Army aviators, manages the aviation enterprise, and "integrates aviation capabilities and requirements across the warfighting functions to enable commanders and soldiers on the ground to fight and win in an increasingly complex world."

You also may be interested in...

Training Marines as Combat Life Savers

Article Around MHS
10/7/2022
Military medical personnel practice lifesaving procedures

U.S. Navy Corpsman from Expeditionary Operations Training Group (EOTG), I Marine Expeditionary Force, hosted the second iteration of Marines training on life saving fundamentals and casualty care.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support

Coast Guard Will Begin New Physician Training to Help Staff Clinics

Article Around MHS
10/7/2022
https://www.mycg.uscg.mil/News/Article/3172594/coast-guard-will-begin-new-physician-training-to-help-staff-clinics/ on the USCG website

The Coast Guard will begin training its own physicians to help fill vacancies in medical staff amidst a nationwide shortage of health care professionals.

Recommended Content:

Education & Training

Getting Back to the Fight

Article Around MHS
10/6/2022
Military personnel working out

Training for America’s next battles will always involve risk. Creating an environment that simulates the many elements of warfare is an ever-changing obstacle, but the Marine Corps has always adapted to these obstacles.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Injury Prevention

Army Builds Tool to Save Lives at High Altitude

Article Around MHS
9/30/2022
Military researchers in the mountains of New Mexico

Mountain climbing is risky business. When unacclimatized individuals rapidly ascend to altitudes greater than 8,000 feet, they put themselves at risk for suffering from high-altitude illnesses. The addition of hard physical exercise, typical of a military mission, increases this level of risk. Detecting these illnesses prior to occurrence has the potential to save lives.

Recommended Content:

Research and Innovation | Physical Fitness

Mental Health Office Helps AUAB Members Maintain Readiness

Article Around MHS
8/30/2022
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Melissa Leonardo smiles for photo

Comprehensive Airman Fitness is comprised of physical, social, spiritual and mental fitness. Being physically fit to fight and maintaining a war fighter spirit are crucial to completing the mission.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Spiritual Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Depression | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder | Anxiety | Stress | Mental Health: Seeking Care with TRICARE | Mental Health is Health Care

Battalion Hosts Critical Medical Training

Article Around MHS
8/24/2022
Military personnel in combat training exercise

Allied Forces North Battalion conducted a week-long Combat Lifesaver Course July 25-29.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Education & Training | Building Partner Capacity and Interoperability | Global Health Security Agenda

Bulgarian Armed Forces Demonstrate Combat Medical Advancements

Article
8/22/2022
Two medics tend to a dummy in a simulated emergency.

Bulgarian Armed Forces showed off their combat lifesaving training to a U.S. delegation Aug. 10.

Recommended Content:

Education & Training | Health Readiness & Combat Support | Global Health Engagement

Yoga Shield: Building Mental and Physical Resiliency

Article
8/9/2022
Airman teaches yoga to a variety of Airmen in Springfield, Ohio, so they learn mental and physical resiliency.

Airman teaches yoga to decrease stress, enhance resiliency

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness

Corpsman Care during Atlantic Ocean ops on MSC ship

Article Around MHS
8/4/2022
Military medical personnel performing emergency surgery

There’s a reason why U.S. Navy independent duty corpsmen are found assigned on isolated platforms from the wide expanse of the Indo-Pacific Theater to the far reaches of the Atlantic Ocean.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Global Health Engagement

Wellness Fair Showcases Ample Resources at Naval Hospital Bremerton

Article Around MHS
8/2/2022
Military personnel demonstrating a grip therapy

Naval Hospital Bremerton hosted a holistic Wellness Fair in late July 2022.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Performance Nutrition: Fuel Your Body and Mind | Total Body Preventive Health - Dental, Medical & Mental | Nutritional Fitness | Health Readiness Support

Soldiers Not Immune to Damage of Sun's Rays

Article Around MHS
7/28/2022
Soldiers not immune to damage of sun’s rays

Some soldiers have a greater risk for developing skin cancer than others. For July’s UV Safety Awareness month, soldiers should be aware of their risks and how to reduce their chances of skin cancer.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Summer Safety

Yoga Shield: Building Mental and Physical Resiliency

Article Around MHS
7/27/2022
Military personnel doing yoga

More than 30 Airmen assigned to the Ohio National Guard’s 178th Wing and the Iowa National Guard’s 132nd Wing began a week-long, 60-hour yoga training program July 18 at the 178th Wing in Springfield, Ohio.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Psychological Fitness

Mind-Body Mental Fitness

Article Around MHS
7/27/2022
Mountain view

The lifestyle of active duty service members and their families comes with unique stressors that can often be compounded by living overseas. What most people don’t realize is that stress is a normal part of life. The feelings of stress are just indicators that something in our life needs attention, and even presents a possibility for positive change and growth.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Physical Fitness | Psychological Fitness | Stress | Mental Health is Health Care

Teddy Roosevelt, Navy Medicine, and the Birth of Physical Readiness

Article Around MHS
7/25/2022
Military personnel in exercise drill on deck of Navy ship

Today’s U.S. Navy espouses a “culture of fitness,” and “physical readiness,” but this was not always the case. In the early 1900s, many including the president himself, Theodore Roosevelt, were appalled by the lack of physical conditioning in the Navy.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Physical Fitness

August Performance Triad Month

Article Around MHS
7/21/2022
Color graphic depicting aspects of wellness.

As part of its August “P3 for All” campaign, the U.S. Army Public Health Center is encouraging all Army leaders, soldiers, family members and soldiers for life to embrace the synergy of sleep, activity and nutrition, the core components of the Performance Triad, along with the important elements of mental readiness and spiritual readiness.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Sleep
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 42
Refine your search
Last Updated: July 20, 2022
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery