DEHYDRATION

 “Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.”   Psalms 107:5

     Dehydration is fatigue’s ugly cousin, posing a threat to pilots in multiple ways.   Though actually dying of thirst while aloft is unlikely, foggy judgment or diminished awareness can remove the pilot from full command (especially one flying alone) and leave the flight’s outcome to mindless fate.   Also, dehydration’s effects may not simply vanish when you ‘just add water’.   These hazards, like all others, exist in various degrees of extremity.

     One soaring friend and very experienced instructor tells of being alone, high over wild country far from home when he recognized the symptoms of dehydration.   He’d read of a competition pilot crashing moments after successfully finishing a task.   The autopsy revealed serious dehydration, apparently causing the pilot to black out from the stress of a high-G pull-up after his racing finish.   My friend recognized the gravity of this situation and huffed all his remaining water while diving hard for the nearest airport to get on the ground before he lost full control – or consciousness.   After landing he was unable to propel himself across the ramp to a water faucet, and was lying delirious beneath his wing when others found him…