g-FORCES: CLOSE TO THE EDGE

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A body accelerating, decelerating,
or traveling at a certain speed and suddenly changing direction, will suffer a proportional gain in weight. These are the g-forces, and they are measured in g’s (gees).

For example, a pilot flying straight and level in non-turbulent air experiences 1 g. If the plane banks coordinated at 45 degrees the resulting ratio is 1,4 g. At 60 degrees of bank the ratio is 2 g. This means that both plane and pilot suddenly weigh double. And in combat operations or aerobatic performances in which pilots pull 6 or 7 g’s the total is now six or seven times the weight.

In civilian aviation the effects of g-forces are negligible, but for aerobatic and military aircraft going extremely fast and performing very tight turns, the resulting weight applied to the airframe and, equally important, to the pilot, is enormous.

Another crucial aspect is that g-forces are cumulative: the human body can endure a limited amount of exposure. After sustained g-loads not enough oxygen reaches the brain, resulting in g-LOC (g-induced Loss Of Consciousness). Extreme pilots must be aware at all times how close they are to the edge.

 


Extreme pilots must be aware
at all times how close they are
to the edge.