Beating The Heat

Brian Martinez

Originally published June 1997

We are definitely in the warm weather season now and you can bet that the temperatures will be going up in the next few weeks. It is probably a good time to discuss some common sense gear for airplane builders and pilots, specifically those of us who live in the high desert of the Antelope Valley.


One of the things that I have discovered while living and working in our dry local environment is that if you don't keep pushing your water, you are going to end up feeling pretty wiped out at the end of the day. I've made the mistake of getting so locked up with trying to finish the latest airplane mod, that I forgot to take a break, get a drink, and get some lunch. After learning a few hard lessons, I'm taking a hint from the Edwards Survival School, the ECO-Challenge participants, and performance bikers everywhere. When I go to Mojave or even work in the yard, I now put on my Camelbak hydration system and I sip water continuously. Boy, does this help! For you folks that haven't seen them, the Camelbak system is a 70-90 fluid ounce collapsible reservoir in a backpack. A transparent drinking tube attaches to the reservoir and wraps around your collar providing a convenient way to stay hydrated. In order to stay hydrated and healthy in the heat, drink a lot.

Another interesting thing about this type of drinking system is that there are water pack styles which are designed to interface with military ALICE load carrying equipment packs. What this mean to the experimental airplane pilot is that if you have a tight cockpit, you can now easily integrate a hands off drinking system into your airplane (i.e., which will keep you refreshed and be relatively spill free on those long cross country flights). What we need now is a comfortable, hands off, and spill free piddle pack system. How about it, NORM??????

Performance Eye Wear

Retire your old Air Force sunglasses. Several years ago after getting a new pair of hard contact lenses, my eye doctor pointed out that my sunglasses were pretty scratched up and that I should really consider their replacement now that I had a new set of eyes. I did a little catalog shopping and decided to try out the new breed of sunglasses. I ordered a pair of wrap around Gargoyles as I figured they might give me some added protection from the "dirt in the eye" contact lens disease that I find so common in this area. Not only did they provide significant UV protection for all sports, they lived up to my goal of keeping my eyes dust free. One of the advertising points was the ability to sustain a "00" Buck Shotgun impact without penetration. I have since moved on to a pair of Okley Plutonite sunglasses as these provide a better facial fit for me and seem to be less prone to breakage. I have run with them, biked with them, shot with them, driven with them, and flown with them. They work good and last a long time.

To be sure, these are not cheap "Blue Blockers" we are talking about here. However, whether you choose Gargoyles, Protective Optics, Okley, Scott or some other name brand polycarbonate glasses; you will have excellent UV protection, wide angle ballistic protection (some of these lenses exceed ANSI 787.1 and Mil-S-44366A fragmentation standards), and enhanced head retention under wind loads. Most of these glasses come in a variety of lens colors (including clear for nighttime protective use), UV levels, and head sizes.

On a related note, I order all my prescription glasses with polycarbonate lenses. I have had numerous encounters with flying debris from high speed machining and the polycarbonate lenses work every time. There are also some very effective polycarbonate sunglasses that fit over your regular glasses. You see a lot of senior citizens wearing them! Funny thing is, they are cheap, work very well against UV and also provide ballistic protection.

Head Cover

Lets face it, a lot of us are getting a bit older now and a bit thin on the scalp. In the summer and in the desert it makes sense to keep a hat on your head. To me that hat is a ventilated, light colored affair with plenty of coverage for your face, neck, and ears. Tilley and OR make great hats in this category, but it is always entertaining to see a good old Pith Helmet. I like straw hats, too. Bottom line, wear your hat and prevent skin cancer!


In the heat, stay fully clothed. The clothing helps control perspiration and prevents sunburn. Even undershirts are a good thing. Keep the colors light because just as plastic airplane enthusiasts know, the lighter the color, the cooler the skin surface temperature. Cotton is good stuff.

Where Do You Get All This Stuff?

You can find a lot of this gear in ski and sports shops like "SPORTS CHALET". You can also get much better prices through wholesale mail order houses. I like performance bicycle shops myself, because after you finish buying your gear, you can check out what the cycling enthusiasts are doing with carbon, aluminum, and steel in their and rag will never die!

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Contents of The Leading Edge and these web pages are the viewpoints of the authors. No claim is made and no liability is assumed, expressed or implied as to the technical accuracy or safety of the material presented. The viewpoints expressed are not necessarily those of Chapter 1000 or the Experimental Aircraft Association.
Revised -- 20 December 1997