Flight helmet

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NASA helmet for the Northrop T-38 Talon aircraft
German leather flight helmet of World War I

A flight helmet, sometimes nicknamed a "bone dome", is a special type of helmet primarily worn by military aircrew.

A flight helmet can provide:[1]

  • Impact protection to reduce the risk of head injury (e.g. in the event of a parachute landing) and protection from wind blast (e.g. in the event of ejection).
  • A visor to shield the eyes from sunlight, flash and laser beams.
  • Noise attenuation, headphones and a microphone (except when included in a mask).
  • A helmet mounted display, mounting for night vision goggles and/or a helmet tracking system (so the aircraft knows where the pilot is looking).

The design of a flight helmet may also consider:[2]

  • Comfort - including the weight, centre of gravity and provision for cooling and ventilation.
  • Compatibility with an oxygen mask (for high altitude flight and NBC protection).

History of flight helmets[edit]

Use of flight helmet began as leather head piece that covered the head and removable googles to protect pilots eyes from the elements.[3] This remained the same during World War I.

By World War II, an oxygen mask was added to the equipment as planes flew higher where thinner air required a breathable air supply to the pilots and crew. After World War II into the Korean War, the leather headpiece was gradually replaced with a hard helmet needed as head protection during bailing out (and later with high velocity ejection.[4]). Also, goggles were replaced by a visor that was incorporated to the helmet and tinted to protect against sun. Current head gear (appears after the Vietnam War) also includes communications equipment (head set and microphones) to let pilots communicate with ground operations and their crew.[5]


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