From the old HGU-55 to the Scorpion helmet, as well as other flight accessories

The characteristics of the helmets and flight equipment of the Spanish EF-18 fighter pilots

Since the dawn of aviation, the clothing used by aircraft pilots has seen numerous technological advances.

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For many years now, military pilots have faced a cold, oxygen-poor environment, as well as the dangers of sudden acceleration and maneuvers for their bodies. We already saw something about this in July in an entry on anti-gravity suits for fighter jet pilots. But in addition to this equipment, pilots carry other accessories, including a life jacket (in case of falling into the sea) and other survival equipment, including a small first aid kit and a emergency radio beaconto indicate your position in case you have to eject.

Three pilots with their helmets and flight suits in front of an EF-18M Hornet from the 15th Wing of the Spanish Air Force (Photo: Ejército del Aire).

A very important part of the flight equipment of these pilots is the helmet. In addition to protecting their heads from blows, especially in the event of ejection, the helmets of fighter aircraft are equipped with an oxygen mask(which supplies this element in the appropriate proportion depending on the flight height), equipped with an inhalation valve and an exhalation valve. The pilot puts on this mask as soon as the cockpit is closed, he keeps it on during the flight and does not take it off until the cockpit is opened again, unlike what we usually see in some films. The oxygen mask includes a microphone, connected to the aircraft's communications system, as well as headphones located inside the helmet.

A pilot from the 151st Squadron of the 15th Wing of the Spanish Air Force in the cockpit of his EF-18 Hornet fighter. He wears an HGU-55 helmet (Photo: Ejército del Aire).

These helmets have solar visors that protect the pilots from exposure to sunlight. The pilots of the Spanish EF-18 Hornet (a fighter stationed in the 12th Wing of Torrejón, the 15th Wing of Zaragoza and ek Ala 46 de Gando) have traditionally used HGU-55 helmets, which have the visor visible when raised, unlike the famous HGU-33, popularized by films such as "Top Gun" and aesthetically more beautiful, but heavier.

Tom Cruise in the movie "Top Gun" (1986), wearing an HGU-33 helmet.

One of its advantages over its predecessor, the HGU-33, is that the HGU-55 allows you to attach night vision goggles (NVG) for vision in low light conditions. These glasses are attached to the front part of the helmet, previously disassembling the sun visor. NVGs amplify low ambient light, offering the pilot improved but monochromatic vision.

An HGU-55 helmet with night vision goggles (Photo:

In recent years the Air Force has been purchasing new Scorpion helmets for the pilots of its EF-18. These helmets include a revolutionary technology that allows the pilot to have access to flight and combat information. whatever point you are looking at. This is possible thanks to the fact that the Scorpion helmet is equipped with a full-color HMD (Helmet-Mounted Display), which offers the pilot the information from the traditional HUD (Head-Up Display, the glass screen). mounted on the instrument panel) through a glass panel that is located in front of the right eye.This is a high-tech helmetand considerably more expensive than its predecessors.

A US Air Force pilot wearing a Scorpion helmet (Photo: USAF/Air Combat Command).

On these issues, V1 Aeronautics has published an interesting video in which a member of the 12th Wing shows us the flight equipment of the pilots of that unit, including HGU-55 flight helmets (one of them with night vision goggles) and a Scorpion helmet (the video is in Spanish, You can activate automatic English subtitles in the bottom bar of the player):


Main photo: Ejército del Aire. A pilot from the 15th Wing of the Spanish Air Force in the cockpit of his EF-18 Hornet fighter.

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