Oxygen, hypoxia and anti-ice
|Not a good look but keeps me conscience!|
The reason for the oxygen is to prevent the onset of hypoxia. In your regular commercial jet, the cabin is pressurised to around 7000ft which is plenty low enough to keep everyone conscience throughout a long-haul flight (although wouldn’t it be great if it was set higher and you just passed out for the whole flight until arrival?). A Pilatus Porter, like most light aircraft, cannot be pressurised so a supplementary oxygen system is used.
|Flying at 15,000ft|
The oxygen system we use is a simple continual flow system which has a small dial on the regulator which you set to your altitude. 1 =10,000ft, 1.5 = 15,000ft 2 =20,000ft etc. Once above 13,000ft I set it to “1”, as usually I’m not spending more than five or ten minutes up there whilst clearing a ridge of mountains. If I know I’m going to be spending longer, then I’ll set it to 1.5 or higher.
Now, in-case you didn’t know, hypoxia is a condition where your body/brain lack the oxygen to keep functioning properly. It’s pretty dangerous because it can occur without you even noticing until you eventually pass out. Not ideal.
|Even at 15,000ft there’s still mountains above in places|
I should mention that if there’s passengers on board we try not to spend too much time above 13,000ft and fly routes accordingly around the higher peaks and ridges. However, one advantage they have over us is that they live in the mountains, so are far more accustomed to breathing at high altitude.
|Puncak Jaya mountain range|
The other “new” thing to me is using the anti-ice system (i.e. pitot heat which is used to measure the aircraft’s airspeed). Having been flying out here in the tropics for the last three years it’s something I’ve not really used during that time. I have to conscientiously remember to turn it on when the outside air temperature drops to 4 degrees or below with visible moisture (i.e. clouds) as per my PPL level training. Funny how things there were once so familiar when flying in the cold and wet UK can so easily be forgotten when not routine!