Bending spy planes

less than 1 minute read

An unexpected source of decompression sickness: the U-2 spy plane.

As the number of flights increases, some of the planes 60 pilots have suffered from the same disorienting illness, known as the bends, that afflicts deep-sea divers who ascend too quickly. Relaxing recently in their clubhouse at Beale Air Force Base near Sacramento, Calif., the U-2s home base, several pilots said the most common problems are sharp joint pain or a temporary fogginess.

I lecture every year about high-altitude adaptation in humans, but this is a nice example of the opposite!