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What You Need To Know About Hypoxia +Video

Hypoxia - Primary Steven Feather

Oxygen deprivation, known as hypoxia, is one of the most dangerous risks of flying at high altitude. Check out these hypoxia-inducing altitudes, and how your body reacts to each one.

Icon 10,000 Feet

The average person starts to feel the effects of hypoxia. In some people, hypoxia can begin as low as 5,000 feet.

Icon 25,000 Feet

You have 3 to 5 minutes of useful consciousness (the maximum time you have to make rational, life-saving decisions). If you don't descend to a lower altitude or put on oxygen, you'll pass out. Eventually, without more oxygen, you will die.

Icon 35,000 Feet

You have 30-60 seconds of useful consciousness. Because your conscious time exponentially decreases as altitude goes up, you have just a fraction of the time available to you at 25,000 feet.

Icon 45,000 Feet

You have 9-15 seconds of useful consciousness. That's barely enough time to put on an oxygen mask.

Source: Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge

What Are Your Hypoxia Symptoms?

Recognizing your hypoxia symptoms is the key to survival. Since everyone's reaction to hypoxia is different, the best way to figure out what your symptoms are is to do an altitude chamber flight. The FAA provides chamber flights to pilots in Oklahoma City, and it's worth looking into.

Can't make it to a chamber flight? Seeing other pilots' symptoms is the next-best thing. Check out these videos where pilots feel the effects of thin air.

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