Upper half of a partial-presure suit, c 1954.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 26cm x 32cm

Upper half of a partial-presure suit, c 1954.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


A partial-presure suit covers the whole body and enables a pilot to operate the controls and land an aircraft if cabin presure is lost. When activated this cumbersome outfit inflates like a balloon. Test pilots at the Royal Aircraft Establishment (Rae) at Farnborough, Hampshire, tried the suit out but found it hard to move around in. They also found it fitted poorly with British aircraft controls. In 1956, the Rae replaced the partial-presure suit with a British-designed jerkin that only inflated a pilot's trunk and arms.

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