Artifacts

U-2 Pressure Suit and Helmet

Artifact Details

U-2 planes could fly at 70,000 feet, so pilots had to wear this pressure suit to protect them.

Suit – This is an S-1010 pressure suit for a U-2R plane. High-altitude pilots wear pressure suits as protection from cockpit depressurization. At altitudes above 63,000 feet without artificial air pressure, human blood and other fluids boil. In addition to preventing this, pressure suits also protect pilots from low temperatures at high altitudes. The temperature at U-2 mission altitudes is about minus 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If the pilot had to eject, he would free fall for two to three minutes before parachute deployment. The suit provides flotation for a water landing, as well.

Helmet – A coated-fabric face barrier inside this U-2 helmet divides the oxygen supply into two sections. One region covers the eyes, nose, mouth, and chin; the other compartment houses the rest of the head and is linked to the air in the interior of the suit. The barrier fits smoothly to the skin across the forehead, down the side of the face in front of the ears, and under the chin to make an airtight seal. The pilot’s breath passes from one region to the other by means of a one-way exhalation valve near the right cheek.

To close the visor, a lever is pulled to lower it and force it against the gasket on the shell. Then, liquid and paste food can be ingested by the pilot through the feeding port located in the front of the helmet on the lever latch. The visor contains a transparent resistive heater to keep it clear of condensation.

Artifact Specs

27 cm x 27 cm x  26.5 cm
(L x W x H)

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