Your recent article on oxygen deprivation interested me greatly. As a jump pilot (hauling skydivers), I visit moderately high altitudes regularly. On a typical busy day, I may go to 14,000 feet 20 times. Granted that I don’t stay there very long, but I wonder if the harmful effects are cumulative. Peter Danes
San Diego, Calif.
The interesting piece doesn’t fully square with my experience of 57 years ago. As part of our WWII preflight training, we were taken in groups to simulated altitude in a chamber. For this exercise, we would be taken to 18,000 feet so we could see how it felt. All of us would then put on oxygen masks, except for a volunteer, and we then went up to 30,000 feet or more. Along the way, the volunteer was to write “I feel fine” on a pad provided. Although he was instructed to ask for his mask when he felt he needed it, he’d flop over without any evident self-awareness of hypoxia. After a short but pointed lecture on the guy’s condition, the instructor would put a mask on him and he would pop right back up, find the pencil, and go on writing “I feel fine.” Specifically, we did not find the light dimming as the anecdote in your story describes, nor find ourselves conscious of breathing hard, as might also be inferred from the article. Donald Fluke
Duke University
Durham, N.C.

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