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K-1 High Altitude Flight Helmet on Ebay - Sally Ride?!


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Well I suppose, just like Vietnam used helmets with a mishmash of WWII, KW, AND VN Era parts, it's always possible. But was it hers? A picture of her using it would help, but then that would open the door to fakes being produced.

 

Looking to buy US dog tags, any era. Contact me and let me know what you have!

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The late Sally Ride that was an astronaut was selected out of college by NASA and therefore was never in the USAF. She was also selected in the late 1970's and I'm far from an expert but that helmet also looks as if it predates the late 1970's by a bit.

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The K-1 was out of service by the early 1960s replaced by the full pressure HGU-8/P and HGK-13/P helmets. Ride did not join NASA until 1978 nearly 20 years after the K-1 was phased out. To put this in perspective: NASA had developed and flown the Mercury program, the Gemini Program, the Apollo Program and a was soon to start flying the shuttle. Factoring in all the x-plane flights, the U-2 and the SR-71 programs, why would anyone resurrect a 20 year old piece of equipment when there were so many better alternatives out there? In 1970, the US Navy was selling as surplus entire MK-IV ensembles. Re this helmet, this actually happens all the time: some guy at a flea market figures he can make a couple of bucks putting a name on a helmet. Maybe it was a photo op? Without any evidence, this is just a surplus K-1. Think about this: why is the seller carefully NOT MENTIONING that the helmet is named to perhaps the most famous female astronaut to date?

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from my point of view, even less realistic than the name itself could be the way it's present on the helmet.

A wild method of attaching that strange-looking strip (somehow a masking tape?) so rudely cut, and the writing itself in loose and indeed ugly characters.

 

As fot the K-1 model, being a partial pressure helmet it was replaced directly by the MA-2 helmet rather than the full-pressure ones like HGK-13 and others, first gradually then virtually completed by 1960. An USAF T.O. catalog from September of that year doesn't list anymore the K-1, even the HGU-6/P (almost a copy of MA-2) is listed as being 'experimental on limited basis'. In effect still in early-to-mid '60s some airplanes' cockpit could accept only pilots dressed in Partial Pressure suits, and the MA-2 (successor to K-1) was being used well into that decade.

HGU-8/P saw a very limited use with those few aviators who dressed with the CSU-4/P partial pressure pattern.

 

HGK-13 saw service somehow parallel to the Partial Pressure helmets, without wholly replacing them as long as the MC-3A and MC-4A suits went on in service.

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I did not set out to demonstrate my proficiency with USAF pressure suit helmets and development but rather to point out the glaring problems with Sally Ride using a twenty plus year old, obsolete partial pressure suit helmet. For those interested, Dr. (Col.) William Sears (now deceased) provides a very nice Pressure Suit chronology in which he mentions most but not all the partial pressure suit helmets. As I recall, Bill created this chronology for the Aerospace Medical Society. Bob McElwain (ex-USAF LST and then NASA LST) has provided this chronology on one of his web pages. As to your information on the MA-2 and K-1 it ignores the MB-5, the HGU-5/P and the HGU-6/P, and what some term the SPD-1. And for the record, the K-1 was not electronically interchangeable with the MA-2 so the MA-2 did not replace it.

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:-) :-) OK, nothing so terrible after all, simply I've pointed out one certain thing in a non-wrong way.

 

but the MA-2 did really replace the K-1 in a broader sense, this cannot be denied by anyone, 'cause the K-1 was all obsolete by 1958-59 and the MA-2 was its replacement

(OK maybe not exactly starting the same day the improved MC-3 suit saw officially service, but it was at all effects its replacement).

As for the electronic/comm. matter I guess that was less than a problem. Some pics I've seen of aviators wearing the same MC-3 suit and some wore the K-1, others the MA-2. It's mainly a thing of what oxy. and comm. terminals do match their receiving ends in the cockpit (a matter of decidedly minor accessories within the cockpit itself), so we cannot state that in very strict sense the MA-2 didn't replace the K-1.

 

That said I decidedly prefer stopping here.

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Dennis Jenkins "Dressing for Altitude" is perhaps the best chronology of USAF pressure suit development. Jenkins clearly states the K-1 was replaced by the MB-5 and that occurred around 1956. Jenkins is a good read as he explains what was developed and why. Most suits were purpose built and one seldom replaced another.

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Just this last note,

 

yes the MB-5 replaced the K-1 but, it actually was at 95% a K-1, nothing more, simply being fitted with a different microphone and a couple very minor details. Who knows whether back then, USAF/NACA perhaps wondered themselves why they gave an official different name for a virtually identical helmet.

So we go back to the above point, the MA-2 did virtually replace the K-1 at all effects.

 

When I look at three F-104 pilots,

one in late 1955 with T-1 suit and K-1 helmet,

one in late 1957 with T-1A suit and K-1 helmet (but with MA-2's enhanced faceplate and hoses),

one in late 1959 with MC-3 suit and complete MA-2 helmet,

 

same airplane, same systems, same concept of parachute-carried oxygen bottles and regulators (even though a bit different pattern and operating pressures) I only must think the MA-2 was the logical successor to the K-1.

This without the least intention for any polemics of course. Subject is an interesting one, that's all.

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Dennis Jenkins "Dressing for Altitude" is perhaps the best chronology of USAF pressure suit development. Jenkins clearly states the K-1 was replaced by the MB-5 and that occurred around 1956. Jenkins is a good read as he explains what was developed and why. Most suits were purpose built and one seldom replaced another.

 

 

I agree, it's a very good book. I just wish they'd made an affordable hard copy you could buy from the government...

Here's a link to the digital version, as it's well worth a read: http://www.nasa.gov/connect/ebooks/dress_for_altitude_detail.html

Lee Bishop Formerly known as "Ratchet 5" with the 2nd Infantry Division (yes, in REAL life)

US WW2 War Correspondent collector

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1st and 2nd photos is F-104 Lockheed test pilot in October 1954 (other sources, 1955) with K-1 helmet and original, basic T-1 suit.

 

3rd photo is USAF test pilot in F-104C, December 1959, in MC-3 suit and complete MA-2 helmet (helmet + correct faceplate).

 

4th photo is X-1E NACA pilot Joe Walker (not F-104 pilot, my error) in early-to-mid 1958, in MC-1 improved suit (note sleeve tubes for gloves and unique oxy. hoses/connectors) and older K-1 helmet + improved faceplate and hoses + MA-2's microphone.

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The electrical/communication side of the whole was the very least in importance, just some changes at the comm. system's receiving end in the cockpit.

 

Oxygen for both pilot's breathing, and inflating suit's 'capstan' tubes in emergency wasn't a problem neither - the pilot in former photos would have carried a leg-tied, or parachute-tied C-1 high-pressure ensemble + regulator/reductor with connections to breathing hose and capstan tubes.

Later pilots like those in other photos would have a very similat kit for the same purpose, named MA-2 (exactly like the helmet) but this exclusively attached to the parachute.

 

None of these details would have hampered using a MA-2 helmet in itself as a K-1 replacement.

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You are wrong. The type designation sheets for the K-1 and MA-2 state they are not electronically interchangeable. The K-1 is AN/AIC-8 (headset and Mic) while the MA-2 is AN/AIC-10. The MB-5 is in fact a K-1 UPGRADED to the MA-2 electronics. "MB" as in the MB-4 which is a P-4 without a visor were SAC's designations.

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Actually in better checking my posts, I never wrote 'interchangeable'.

All has set off with me permitting to rettify that statement that the K-1 was replaced by the full pressure HGU/8 (actually a partial-pressure model) and HGK-13, yes they did when the full-pressure suits came along in use, but technically speaking they didn't replaced it ('cause in those cramped cockpits so requiring, MC-3A and MC-4A partial pressure suits together with MA-2s went on in service up to mid-'60s).

 

Basically I didn't write anything wrong, I would believe - the two helmets didn't need at all, in effect, being interchangeable between. A pilot who had flown (for example) the same aircraft F-104 the day before equipped in K-1 + MC-1 and the day after in MA-2 + MC-3A, would have just to sit inside and fasten his harnesses,

that very modicum of differencies in oxy. connectors, hoses and cables all stayed within pilot's context.

I'm glad about the discussion anyway, just having searched for those pics has forced me in re-freshening some details I've previously forgotten.

Thanks - Franco.

 

* sorry for putting more 'editing' at my posts than most of users usually do, however I prefer checking my non-perfect written English looking for too evident errors but guess here and there some have escaped though.

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It seems to me that far too often, the “experts” of this world dazzle us with their ignorance when they should perhaps, shut up and learn. As stated previously, the question at hand was whether Sally Ride would have used a K-1 partial pressure suit helmet and that was what I endeavored to answer. I did not think a treatise on the USAF partial pressure suit program was in order as the salient point that I attempted to make was that Sally Ride didn’t join NASA until 20 years after the K-1 left service.

As the saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished and frankly, As in times past on similar forums I find myself off on a tangent that is both counterproductive and personally unpleasant. I simply do not wish to continue to participate in these activities. It just isn't fun.....

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