The original SR-71 Blackbird Space Pilot Helmet comes with the original carrying bag.
The seller includes in the shipment the original helmet bag.
According to the auction:
“It is very hard to find an original helmet that was used on the SR-71 Blackbird for sale. In fact, I believe its been over a decade since one like this has been in the market. You will mostly find this type of equipment on display at museums, like at the Hill Aerospace Museum in Utah. I was able to purchase this a long time ago from an old neighbour whose father was the actual pilot that this belonged to. This has been sitting around collecting dust for many years, so it is time to let it go. I know that these cost above $16,000.00 each, to produce in the 1970’s.
“Feel free to make a reasonable offer.
“Like the suit itself, the helmet used in this configuration was made up of different parts. The outer shell was made of fiberglass and shaped more like an oval than a circle, although the difference was barely distinguishable. This outer shell was integrated with a metal ring that locked into the neck ring of the suit using “dogs”, or a series of over 80 separate spring-loaded latches that locked into place once the helmet was fully seated into the neck ring. There was no stop point on the rotation of the helmet, so theoretically speaking; it could spin freely 360 degrees clockwise or counter clockwise.
“There were two different and very distinct sections of the helmet. The primary section was the front where the flier’s face was, which was sealed tight from the back portion of the helmet by a snug neoprene face seal. There was a large opening in the front of the helmet’s shell that allowed an unrestricted view for the flier. All around the opening was a small gray rubber strip that had over 100 little holes in it, each hole being the size of the head of a pin. This is where the oxygen flowed into the face cavity. Instead of blowing directly into the face, it flowed across the “clear” face shield, partly to keep from going directly into the wearer’s eyes, but also to assist in the defogging of the face shield from the warm, humid breath of the ACMs. The word “clear” is in quotes because the face shield really wasn’t. In reality, they either had a minute layer of gold over the glass, or there were numerous wires that ran horizontally all the way across and made up the final part of the face heat system for the helmet. To tell which was which, all one had to do was to hold the visor up to the light and look through. If a series of hairline squiggles spaced about 1/16” apart didn’t run across the front of the face shield, then the faintest golden hue could be noticed. Gold was used for the face heat system because of its ability to conduct heat at a low temperature. The visors needed to be warm enough to defrost and keep them from fogging up while at the same time not make the ACM sweat.
“Yes, it was real gold.
“The face shield had a small electrical wire that ran over to the communications port and was integrated with the communications system for the helmet from the inside. The outer/second visor on the helmet was the sunshield, and it was a dark green. This was nothing more than one great big sunglass lens, almost as dark as the shade on a welder’s mask.
“While the sun visor was a simple visor raised and lowered by hand and could be left at any position between full open or full closed, the face shield was another matter. The face shield was connected to a locking mechanism called the Bailer bar. The face shield could be either full open or full closed, but to lock and secure it, the Bailer bar had to be brought all the way down and secured to a small latch directly in the middle and just below the face opening in a hook-like fashion and a safety lock fully engaged by pushing another lever all the way down. One knew both were properly engaged when they either heard or felt both of these mechanisms “snap” into place and the visor could not be opened when the Baylor bar tugged upon. At the pivot point of the Bailer bar was a small white Teflon pin on the helmet’s left side that was relaxed in the visor’s open position and depressed when the bar was down and locked. This was crucial because that single pin was what either engaged or disengaged the oxygen regulators and either started or stopped the flow of oxygen to the face cavity.
“NOTE: This is where the SR’s S1030 and the U-2/TR-1‘s S1031 helmets differed. Where the S1030 had the on/off capability, the S1031 had a continuous flow regardless of face shield position. This was in response to the difference in aircraft performance. Regardless of aircraft, the ACMs had to pre-breathe 100% oxygen for at least ½ hour prior to reaching their mission’s altitude. The SR-71 had to meet up and top off its tanks from a refueling tanker prior to ascending. This took the better part of 30 minutes, so they didn’t have to lock their visors down until just prior to the safety pins being pulled from their egress systems.
“The U-2 was a different animal, though. It did not refuel therefore it climbed straight away. This difference was even more obvious to those who were privileged enough to watch the launches, and witness her literally stand on her tail before she got 2/3 of the way down the runway. This meant that the pilot went on oxygen right when the pre-flight tests were begun and a continuous flow of oxygen was required.
“On the left side of the helmet just below the face opening was a round knob used to adjust the helmet’s microphone, once the visor was closed. Keep in mind that once the visor was closed, the fliers began “pre-breathe” (purging of nitrogen from their system), and they were not allowed to open up again until their descent below 10’000 ft. at the end of their mission without having to start the pre-breathe period all over again. If that visor was accidentally popped and oxygen integrity compromised, it was back to the very beginning.
“‘On the right side of the helmet and about 1 ½’ of center was the feeding port. This was an opening with a spring-loaded flap about the size of a large straw that the pilots could stick the tubes in order for them to drink, or eat “tube food”, without introducing a leak. Tube food was food which was food in a paste form and packed into an aluminum tube the same shape and size as a standard tube of toothpaste. Fliers had their choice of beef and gravy, butterscotch pudding, applesauce and peaches, to name a few. If for some reason the spring mechanism were to fail, there was a small round rubber stopper in the sleeve pocket that they could press into the feeding port to prevent loss of pressure from their helmet. Behind the feeding port were two small test ports in the helmet. One led to the face cavity and the other into the suit portion of the suit, intended solely for taking the required pressure and flow testing measurements. When in storage, the male probes used for testing were replaced by screw plugs that were secured tightly into the holes.
“Back on the left outside part of the helmet shell was what looked like a black disc about two inches aft of the microphone adjustment. This was the cover to the anti-suffocation device, or ‘anti-suff valve’, and this device was the only way that ambient (outside) air was to be introduced into the suit as a survival measure. A thin, Teflon wafer about 1 ¼” inch in diameter and held against the opening in the helmet, this device was designed so that if the flier lost their oxygen supply such as in the case of egress, then if they were to inhale hard enough, the spring would compress and allow air into the face cavity. The driving scenario behind this was water survival where a flier had to keep their face shield closed and locked to avoid water getting in and filling their suits, which would ultimately result in dragging them down to the bottom and drowning them. With the visor closed and the anti-suffocation cover designed in the manner that it was, while some water was certain to get in, it would be a miniscule amount, greatly reducing the risk. Resistance for the anti-suff was set so that even if unconscious, air could be drawn in to avoid suffocating the flier. Further back on the left, just behind and below the left ear was the communications port that the internal communications and face heat wiring ran out of to connect to the aircraft’s systems.
“The next component on the right side of the helmet towards the back and right about horizontal center of the head was what was called a take up reel. This reel was a device that was attached to a spool that a string was wound around, which was in turn attached to several points of the neoprene face seal and laced through several eyelets on the inside of the helmet. This system was used to draw the face seal snugly against the face to prevent any type of leakage between the two cavities of the helmet. At the end of the flight, the reel was relaxed and the seal loosened to allow removal of the helmet. In the very back and dead center was attached the two oxygen hoses that connected the suit’s oxygen system to the plane’s oxygen supply via the seat kit. The hoses fed into the helmet’s regulator, which will be discussed later.
“On the inside of the helmet and on the inside of the face cavity, the face seal was attached to a bigger, looser drape-like piece of airtight material that was glued around the entire inner opening of the face opening. To the left of the pilot’s mouth was the mike, which as described earlier was roughly adjusted before closing up for testing and pre-breathe, then adjusted from the outside by the knob. Further back and on the same side as the opening for the anti-suff, and to the right was the opening for the feeding port. Right about even with the flier’s mouth and integrated into the larger drape-like piece of the face seal was an exhalation, or “ex” valve. This valve worked on the same basic principle as the anti-suff. The ex valve was a clear plastic disc that was held in place with a spring and tri-valve. Pressure from the suit and the spring kept the valve closed, but as the flier exhaled, the force of the exhalations was stronger than the spring. This is how oxygen was circulated through the face cavity. Theoretically speaking, if given enough time the ACs could inflate their suits by breathing alone.
“The part of the helmet in back of the face cavity was part of the overall full pressure suit itself. While the face cavity was maintained at roughly a 1:1 pressure ratio, or effort equal to breathing at ground level, the back part of the helmet and the suit itself even at full inflation still experienced the atmospheric pressure of about 32,000 ft, or FL320. Although maintaining the body at a safe atmospheric pressure, without the aid of 100% oxygen, this altitude is still lethal if exposed to for a long enough period of time. Inside the helmet was a liner made of a firm sponge foam material that contained earphones for the communications systems, covered in nylon with a communications wire connected to another wire in the helmet, which in turn was integrated to the plug that was attached to the plane’s main systems. The helmet liner was secured to the top of the shell of the helmet by a piece of Velcro about 3 ½” in diameter. If the two pieces of Velcro from the helmet and the liner did not match exactly, it could cause a hot spot, or a point on the flier’s head that after a while could feel like someone was pressing down hard on top of their heads with a finger. While only annoying at first, after a couple of hours, it could become very painful.
“The final part of the helmet was the dual oxygen regulator attached to the inside of the helmet. Fed by the oxygen hoses attached to the plane’s main system, it had two regulators side-by-side, each one an independently functioning barometric aneroid. A barometric aneroid is something that detects differences in atmospheric pressures, then automatically adjusts those pressures to meet the acceptable, predetermined levels. There were two sections separated by a flexible rubber diaphragm. As the ACs breathed in, oxygen flowed into the face cavity by way of the gray spray bar mentioned at the beginning of this section. As the pressure in the supply tubing that ran from the regulators to the spray bars decreased, the regulators sensed the pressure difference and opened up, allowing oxygen to flow from the plane to the pilot. When the inhalations stopped, the pressure equalized and the diaphragms closed. During exhalations, the exit pressure was greater than the entrance pressure, so no oxygen was allowed to flow. In addition to allowing oxygen to flow to the spray bar, the regulators ensured that regardless of the pressure coming from the plane’s system, only a certain and constant level of pressure would be sent through the helmet’s delivery system.
“This is a used original pilots helmet, all imperfections were there when I originally purchased, so being sold as is.
All sales final.”
What are you waiting for?
Photo credit: maps222 via Wikipedia