Regarding the May 14 article “Staying medically qualified to fly” (online as “Report: Helo pilots get secret care to save careers”): At the NASA Ames Research Center back in the 1970s and ’80s we were operating Hueys on two-hour chase missions. Pilots, including me, were complaining of sore backs from the 1:1 vertical vibrations of that two-blade, teetering-rotor system.
I purchased some small, temper foam cushions to try to alleviate the problem — normally sold to truckers for those long hauls. They worked! So I had some professional temper foam cushions (somewhat thicker) custom-made for the front seats of the UH-1s and that was the end of back problem complaints. I also had one for the crew chief’s jump seat.
I let the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in on this because they were having a lot of early and disability retirements from the pounding of the Bell 206 on long patrols.
So, I don’t believe that these cushions severely compromised the crashworthiness of the seats, while they saved many a back from serious, long-term injury.
Lt. Col. Daniel C. Dugan (retired)
NASA Ames Research Center
Moffett Field, Calif.