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IV. Practical Experiences during MWP 99

3. DCS Prevention

  •     "Preventive Decompression Sickness (DCS) Oxygen Breathing" before and during flight cannot be done sufficiently at the moment, due to lack of oxygen stores in the glider.
  •     In case of a preplanned, rapid climb to more than 20000 ft / 6000 m (e.g. to 8500 m) altitude, this cannot be done without danger. 100% oxygen is already needed before take off and right from the start during the climb. This is mandatory to prevent Type II DCS Illness of a neurological nature, like severe headache, stroke, hearing loss, or partial blindness.
  •     The ground calculation is 15 ltr 100% O2 per min (1 breath 750 ml times 20 per minute), which results in about 600 ltr O2 in 40 min, which amounts to a 3 ltr container. See also Annex 1: Practical Preventive Measures and Treatment of DCS in High Altitude Glider Flying above 22000 ft / 6000 m , J.Knueppel, 11/1999.
  •     Some team members did three flights on three consecutive days up to: No 1= 8000 m, No 2=5500 m, No 3= 8500 m. The flights lasted from 9 to eleven 11 hours, higher altitudes climbed in about three hours. Even though the pilots flew several times at this high altitude, in these specific cases on three consecutive days, they experienced no signs of DCS-symptoms at all. This was not the expected finding, but probably due to the fact that pilots stayed at high altitude only a short time to exchange higher glider velocities in favour of longer flight distances.
  •     Additional O2 was provided through EDS above 10 000 ft / 3000 m and through Bendix Diluter Mask above 20 000 ft / 6000 m. This regimen was used in most flights.
  •     Logger data have to be analyzed exactly! But the conclusion was with the empirical experience up to this point, from O2 / time schedules of oxygen-use during the performed flights in 1999, that DCS seems to be sufficiently preventable!
  •     In contrast, one experienced Argentinean pilot suffered in and after flight with severe headache and bends, which cleared over night. He used only the EDS-system in a rapid ascent to about 8000 m / 27 000 ft. -This really gives some evidence of the dangers of DCS.
  •     Further data will be needed to prove all these experiences.
  •     In case of a DCS emergency it would have been necessary to fly the pilot in 1ATA cabin pressure to La Plata to the Navy hospital, because the hyperbaric chamber at ALICURA was not available to the pilots.