From EAA’s New Forums Page
“Do warbird pilots wear Nomex flight suits for safety or to look cool?” That was the poll question just recently posted online on our new EAA
Forums page, www.EAAForums.org, by a user called FlyBuddy. Inspired
by Rod Hightower’s recent column on the topic, “Nomex Misnomer,”
FlyBuddy was curious to see what other people thought. In addition
to responding to the poll (currently 55 percent to 45 percent in favor of
safety), a number of people chimed in with comments.
Should all pilots wear them (Cessna, Piper, etc)? Are warbirds more apt to go up in flames? What
about “O” and “L” type warbirds? —FlyBuddy
I’ve been physically on fire several times in my life. Wearing Nomex gear would have reduced
the burn damage to not much more than a sunburn in one incident and would have completely
prevented one. I prefer to wear it and don’t care about any “cool” factor involved.
IMHO it isn’t Nomex per se that causes the irritation. If warbird pilots, or Fly Baby pilots for that
matter, want to wear Nomex for safety, that’s great. It is the wearing of olive drab Nomex with
epaulettes, patches, and other pseudo-military accouterments that grates. —Sphealey
Required wear for all military pilots… —RosieJerryRosie
I doubt that safety is a priority for many, especially if they throw their fire protection away by
rolling up their sleeves, unzipping down to their navels, and wearing tennis shoes with polyester
socks. My first emergency was a fire that burned a 2-by- 3 foot hole in the side. This was a couple
of years before Nomex came into use. On that day I was wearing the issue gray poplin one-piece
that we had to soak in a water/borax fire-retard solution and air dry. It had zero “coolness”
factor with all the dried white splotches and streaks. —Bob Dingley
I’d say with the they
put into upkeep and flying
their warbirds (much for our
viewing pleasure), they can
wear whatever they want.
If the flight suit is really Nomex and if he is wearing it to fly, then it was probably for safety. If
it is not Nomex or if he is wearing it at night in the bar, it is probably for showmanship. I wear
a Nomex suit like military issue and a helmet when I fly that type of airplane. It is very hot and
uncomfortable, doesn’t breathe well, but seems to be worth it when there is a significant chance
of fire. —Bill Greenwood
Way back in the day, as the kids say, I wore various kinds of flights suits. I was in the Air Force
Reserve, and it was required when actually flying. I’m not sure what the things were made of; in
my early days we had some type of “poly” in that kinda light Air Force green. I have no trouble
with people who wear them for safety; burn protection is a real plus, but they are not much of a
fashion statement. —Joe LaMantia
The general aviation set is at a greater risk of post-crash fire when all other factors are equal due
to the higher flammability of aviation and automobile gas compared to Jet A and similar fuels.
Speaking as someone who used to work in the burn unit of a major trauma center, pretty much
my definition of hell would be living through a burn and then having to endure having melted
synthetic fabric debrided off my skin. —SteveInIndy
Might there be something else here that grates? Might you be annoyed that Nomex wearers are
trying to make others feel inferior? Nobody can do that; people make themselves feel inferior. If it
really bothers you, just point and laugh and let them feel inferior instead. —CDR Muetzel
To follow this conversation, visit www.SportAviation.org.
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