BBC documentary crew visits Brooks City-Base

  • Published
  • By Joe N. Wiggins
  • 311 HSW Public Affair

The British Broadcasting Corporation recently sent a five-member video crew here to video key components of the Air Force mission that supported the Apollo 11 moon landing. The video will be used in an upcoming documentary commemorating the 40th anniversary of the moon landing on July 20, 1969.

The equipment and people used in the documentary will show the (then) Brooks AFB role in support of screening and training astronauts for the NASA manned space flight program. The U.S. Air Force has had a key role in designing, testing and incorporating many of the human life support systems into the space program since the program started in the late 1950s.

Hosted by James May, a well-known writer, journalist, pilot and automotive enthusiast, the documentary crew watched and experienced the effects of a centrifuge ride as Mr. May was put through a 5G training profile used by many American military pilots.

While visiting the Air Force Research Laboratory's centrifuge, several members of the crew grained valuable insight into the training and experiences of the Apollo crews through their discussions with former and current members of the Air Force Research Laboratory staff.

Dr. Dan Fulgham, one of the original pioneers of space and human systems research from the 1950s and 1960s, answered many questions on camera as the host was seated in the Barany chair. He also provided extensive detail about how potential astronauts were screened and then trained as part of the Brooks mission in support of NASA.

Wayne Isdahl, with the Air Force Research Laboratory Centrifuge staff, briefed the Apollo 11 lunar mission profile during take-off with several members of the BBC crew, including James May and Paul King, BBC producer. May was spun to several Gs in the AFRL Centrifuge at Brooks City-Base, TX.  His experience allowed  him to be more familiar with the experiences of Apollo 11 Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., during the initial phase of launch which entered orbit of the Earth 12 minutes after takeoff.

In addition to the Barany chair and the centrifuge, the crew also document the training provided by the GSOS (Gyroflight Sustained Operations Simulator) used to familiarize pilots and astronauts with the effects of Spatial Disorientation, and how to counter its' effects. Spatial Disorientation is a dangerous condition pilots may experience under emergency conditions or during high-performance maneuvers.

The crew shot video outside Hangar 9, one of the most well-known historical buildings in the U.S. Air Force, and currently used as a museum highlighting many of the accomplishments of Brooks AFB and Brooks City-Base. A replica of the F-100 used during early weightlessness research was used as a backdrop for some of the video.

While at Brooks City-Base, the crew saw a video of the dedication speech given here by President John F. Kennedy on November 21, 1963 and some of the historical artifacts used during that visit.

As part of AFMC's Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, the 311th Human Systems Wing improves combat power and efficiency in human performance, protection and support through the many facets of aerospace medicine. The wing produces products that assess and manage health, safety and environmental risks for the U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense. The wing trains more than 5,000 aeromedical personnel annually. Wing personnel manage more than 140 technical acquisition and sustainment programs.