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Be Cool. Be Very Cool Or How to Beat Heat Stress in our Canopied Friends

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By: Skip Aldous

Like all of my friends in the T-34 Association, I love my T-34 and I love flying it. But, there are times when I am not as excited as other times. Just like today, it is 90 degrees outside in Lake City, FL and the humidity 80%. It is partly cloudy, but the sun is beating down and I have to wear my gloves to touch the airplane and I know that when I close the canopy the temperature inside is going up 20-30 degrees. I am wearing shorts, a tee shirt and a cap. In addition to that, I am wearing a personal cooling system called “Black Ice.”

One of the biggest issues with summer flying is dehydration. Our bodies handle excess heat through perspiration (sweating) or secreting moisture through our skin pores which then evaporates, thus creating a cooling effect. Our bodies are “water cooled.” We drink fluids to replace the perspiration. But, if we do not drink enough, then we become dehydrated. Simply, the more you sweat, the more you have to drink, even if you are not thirsty. This is especially true in hot and dry conditions. You guys out in the southwest, probably don’t sweat much, as the moisture evaporates before it has an opportunity to stain your clothes. Now, in the east, where humidity is normally much higher, we have the issue of humidity blocking the cooling evaporation. Simply put, the more moisture in the air (humidity), the less the effect of evaporation on cooling the body.

What happens as your body becomes dehydrated? One of the first symptoms is having difficulty concentrating on the tasks at hand. As you dehydrate, your blood becomes thicker. The brain doesn’t like thick blood and therefore slows its activity, resulting in confusion or lack of concentration. Other symptoms are: headaches, light-headedness, cramps and even seeing spots or stars. All of these are indications of dehydration, requiring immediate attention with fluids and rest. Problem is, you are already behind your body and it will take some time to catch it up.

So, we all know that in order to prevent dehydration, we should be drinking lots of water and sports drinks, etc. Now, consider this: It’s really hot, you hydrated before your flight and you are now working very hard to maintain your position in formation, how do you hydrate? You are still sweating and losing moisture from you body, but you can’t replenish and this is not the time to start losing your concentration.

We have all tried bandannas, fans, misters, wet towels, even towels with ice cubes; we’ve tried this and that and none of it is effective for more than a few minutes, or it’s uncomfortable or bulky.

Let me introduce you to the Black Ice Cooling System. FIG.1
Black Ice consists of a lightweight (8 ounces) two-piece personal cooling system that fits comfortably around the neck and is less than one inch in thickness. The two-pieces consist of a Neoprene collar and a patented cool pack filled with some high tech stuff that is programmed to produce a consistently regulated 57 degrees. The cool pack attaches to the neoprene collar by Velcro dots and the collar is placed around the neck. You can fit it as tight or loose as you like and there is no restriction to movement even with a helmet.

Under the conditions I mentioned in the first paragraph, this cooling system will last at least 30 minutes, although I have used one for almost an hour and a half. When you feel the cool pack starting to warm up, you swap out the cool pack in seconds with a fresh one. I carry a small cooler filled with ice and water and a spare cool pack (CCX-S), in the cockpit. When I swap the cool pack out, the one I just replaced will be recharged in about 20 minutes and I can keep doing this for as long as I need, with no loss of the cooling effect. I do not carry the cooler if I am anticipating any negative Gs, as the coolers are not watertight. But, then at least I still get the benefits of the first use of the cool pack before I start to sweat and have the sweat running into my eyes. This works. There are many uses for this personal cooling system, so you are not just buying something to use when you fly, but something you can use just about anywhere, when you expect to build up a sweat. I keep the cool packs in my fridge in the hangar and wear them every time I am working in the yard, flying or anything outside.

If you are interested, go to: http://www.blackicecooling.com/, for more information. If after reading the information, you would like to own one of these fantastic personal cooling systems, just fire me off an email, or send an email to info@blackicecooling.com and mention this article for a 10% discount and free shipping. Personally, I would go for the CCX-S, available in a range of colors or the MaxSys MS-1, which is what I have. My wife Patti has a pink collar, while I have the black. We keep two cool packs recharging while flying and she tells me when to swap them out. When she is mowing the grass, she’s on her own.


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