‘I read recently something interesting, that a checklist was permanently sewed on the pressure suit sleeves so that the crew members would know what to do in the event of an ejection,’ Linda Sheffield Miller (Col Richard (Butch) Sheffield’s daughter, Col. Sheffield was an SR-71 Reconnaissance Systems Officer), who runs Habubrats Facebook page, told to The Aviation Geek Club.
‘As explained by Colonel Rich Graham in several of his books, the organization at Beale that maintained the pressure suits was the Physiological Support Division (PSD). The facility was located on the flight line and was the Air Force’s entire repository for all pressure suit operations. Consequently, PSD had a high level of experienced personnel, who had the technical expertise and capability to do a complete overhaul on pressure suits. To SR-71 crew members, they were highly qualified “technicians” in every sense of the word.
‘Crews put their lives into the hands of the PSD technicians every time they flew. Wearing the pressure suit made it impossible to strap oneself into the SR-71’s ejection seat making all the necessary connections. Consequently, crews were taught to extend their arms out each side of the cockpit and sit there patiently while PSD technicians, on both sides of the cockpit, mated the pressure suit to the aircraft and its ejection seat. They were extremely professional and safety conscious at their job, alert at all times to the danger of being complacent.’
‘Once the crew member was strapped in the ejection seat inside the altitude chamber, the technicians departed and closed the thick door leading out of the chamber. After the chamber was fully sealed, they began evacuating the air pressure inside. As the chamber reached around 25,000 feet, the technicians asked the crew member over the interphone if he was experiencing any sinus problems. If not, the steady climb to 85,000 feet continued.
‘I know from personal experience since my father used to fly the SR-71( Butch Sheffield) having a cold could cause you to flunk the preflight physical. Being a Habubrat I was taken to the flight surgeon all the time… To make sure I was healthy, I was given a lot of shots of penicillin, so that I wouldn’t give my father whatever childhood illness that I might have. ‘I did get a shot of penicillin so often that when I had my first child and she was sick I said to the doctor “Are you going to give her a shot?” and I said “No why should I just give her a tablespoon of penicillin twice a day.” Then I realized the flight surgeons were Treating me differently because of my dad’s important job. Another thing they did was they say open wide and they do a throat culture checking for strep throat so I serve my country also.
‘When I was around 10 years old my dad took me to the hospital and a corpsman told me to bend over that he wanted to give me another shot and I ran out of the hospital room and said “I’ve had it I’m not gonna take it anymore” so they skipped that shot!’
‘I am now allergic to penicillin after all those shots!’
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force
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