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NEWS | Oct. 12, 2022

1 FW reopens hypobaric chambers

By Tech. Sgt. Ceaira Tinsley 1st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

After being deactivated for approximately seven years, the 1st Operations Support Squadron’s hypobaric chamber recommissioned during a ribbon cutting ceremony to meet growing mission requirements Oct. 11, at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia.

Each year, the chamber is slated to train thousands of diverse aircrew members from across the Department of Defense and a 24 state-region.

“The chamber was brought back online in order to satisfy a couple new requirements…now all initial high-altitude parachutists must go through high-altitude chamber training,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Anthony Cosentino, 1st OSS Aerospace Physiology Flight Commander. “As a force, we already have seven chamber locations online so we’re bringing two more back online in order to meet the increasing need for this level of training.”

As one of the service’s oldest hypobaric chambers, it is designed to simulate the effects of high altitudes can have on the human body such as hypoxia, hypocapnia, and decompression sickness in a controlled environment.

“This chamber will especially be beneficial for our initial aircrew members, who have never flown before because it gives them the most realistic experience possible,” Master Sgt. Desiree Beltran, 1st OSS Aerospace Physiology Flight Chief. “It’s important because when they are actually flying and doing their mission, they’ll be aware of what their bodies are going through, recognize the signs, and if it’s safe continue on the mission.”  

Another added benefit of the chamber’s reactivation is the ability to increase the number of trainees qualified at one time.

“The newer device known as the reduced oxygen breathing device, or ROBD,  is a one-on-one training device, but the chamber is different and allows us to bring in 18 students at one time,” said Beltran. “This makes it extremely beneficial on time while letting us train our aircrew members at a max capacity with very little downtime.”

While for some the ceremony marked the beginning of a journey, Beltran proclaims this was an opportunity to see the chamber’s journey come full circle.

“I was actually here in 2014 when we had our last chamber flight and ‘Mothballed’ the chamber into a deactivated status,” said Beltran. “It’s surreal because it’s like closing the loop or a chapter. I never thought I’d come back to Langley and to come back as the flight chief and work together to bring this mission back online was exciting.”