The Affects of Spatial Orientation on a Pilot and a
Brian R. Erb
Aeronautical Science for Management
January 10, 2010
Each day millions of people put their lives in the hands of pilots. Whether they are civilians or military personnel, these individuals depend on the pilot to get them to their destination safely. What they often overlook is that there are various aeromedical factors that are essential features in the lives of pilots. These aeromedical factors can surface at any given time and can ultimately affect how a pilot carries out his day-to-day responsibilities.
While there are many aeromedical factors that are essential features in the lives of pilots, including but not limited to, hypoxia, hyperventilation, and dehydration, one of the most common aeromedical factors that pilots often experience is spatial disorientation. In dealing with this aeromedical factor, it is important for a pilot to be able to recognize the symptoms of this factor and its causes. In addition, it is vital that the pilots possess knowledge on ways to avoid spatial disorientation and corrective actions that can be used in the event that he experiences same. This will enable a pilot to continue to carry out his job responsibilities in a safe and efficient manner and make the flight a more pleasurable one.
Spatial orientation, “the mistaken perception of one’s position and motion relative to the earth” is a common aeromedical factor experienced by pilots. (Retrieved January 9, 2010, http://www.aopa.org/asf/publications/sa17.pdf). Spatial disorientation is caused when the visual system, the vestibular system, and the somatosensory system, the three sensory systems which provide individuals with the information to maintain their equilibrium, supply conflicting information to the brain. This conflicting information in turn, will provide pilots with an inaccurate mental image of his position in relation...
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