Decompression Sickness

For some reason, I always had trouble remembering the rules for flying after SCUBA diving. I wouldn’t say it’s because I don’t care, but since I don’t dive or know anybody who does…. But the FAA seems to put a disproportionate amount of weight on this topic than it would seemingly merit: in the PHAK, it gets as much space devoted to it as stress and carbon monoxide poisoning. I’ve also seen questions on decompression sickness on the written exams (and, for the record, I answered the question correctly). And, I don’t recall the operator (or airlines, for that matter) asking us about recent diving when we did our tour in Kauai. So the whole topic seems to me to be a warning to Private Pilots, and a reminder to those who covered this info in their dive certification class.

Well, if it helps you remember the guidelines, and maybe scores you an extra couple of points on the written test, here’s a clip from the Spike TV’s show, 1000 Ways to Die. (If you need to see the whole episode in all its full-screen, HD glory, it’s available on Fancast). Yeah, I don’t normally watch this–I just happened on it while looking for MXC, which is the best thing since MST3000. I’ll be interested to see if they make it through 100 ways to die before getting axed themselves. Easy question: based on the info in the clip, how long should these guys have waited before getting in their airplane?

p.s. The caisson disease is interesting. When building bridges, sometimes the engineers will use these caissons–vessels that are sunk into the bottom of the riverbed. They then pump out all the water, and keep them evacuated using pressurized air. Workers can then descend into the caisson to do whatever they need to do for building the structure. Essentially, they’re SCUBA diving (without the “self-contained” part), and breathing pressurized air.

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