Dutch provide EUCOM valuable training resource

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Benjamin Wilson
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The Royal Netherlands Military provide valuable altitude chamber training for members of the U.S. European Command.

"This is the only non-U.S. facility where U.S. personnel do aerospace physiology training," said Capt. Ross Canup, 86th Aerospace Medicine Squadron aerospace and operational physiology chief, Ramstein Air Base. "The Dutch give us really excellent support."

Working with the Dutch provides several advantages for people stationed in Europe.

"We save a significant amount of money by doing training here versus sending people all the way back to the states," Captain Canup said. "Not only is it saving money, but it is saving man-hours. It would cost extra days per student out of the cockpit or their duty location to receive this training if they had to go all the way back [to the U.S.]"

Approximately 250-350 people from EUCOM are trained in the Royal Netherlands Center for Man and Aviation facility each year. Class attendants include all branches of the U.S. military, Department of Defense civilians and NATO exchange pilots.

The majority of the student population attend a refresher course for the original altitude training, however three to four original classes are offered a year, based on availability.

The general purpose of original altitude training is to help aircrew members become familiar with the potential challenges of operating at high altitudes, undergoing G-forces and using oxygen equipment, Captain Canup said. The class also helps students recognize hypoxia symptoms that happen when there is a deficiency of oxygen reaching the tissues of the body, thus reducing the chances of an in-flight incident.

Students in the class experience hypoxia when the chamber creates a higher pressure altitude than people are normally subjected to.

"The chamber here can go up to about 106,000 feet, but you wouldn't want to be in it," Captain Canup said. "Our altitude chamber profiles only go up to 25,000 feet."

At a pressure altitude equivalent to 25,000 feet, approximately two-thirds of the earth's atmosphere is sucked out of the chamber - proportionally reducing the amount of oxygen.

During this time students complete worksheets of simple puzzles and math problems so they can recognize their hypoxia symptoms in the case of a real in-flight emergency.

"Probably my favorite part was the portion where we started the test with the maze and the math problems," said Staff Sgt. Daniel Schultz, 1st Combat Communications Squadron radio frequency transmissions systems supervisor.

Providing people like Sergeant Schultz this kind of information is one of the most satisfying parts of the job for Captain Canup.

"I think the most rewarding part is teaching people stuff that they didn't know, that's useful to help them do their job," said Captain Canup, "... and the excellent working relationship we have with the Dutch. For the last 15 years they have provided the U.S. Air Force with excellent support."