Created during WWII for the U.S. Navy, "Fly High and Live" is a training film that explains to pilots the use of the oxygen cylinder, diluter-demand regulator and type A-14 mask. The type A-14 was based on designs by Dr. Arthur H. Bulbulian of the Mayo Clinic Aero Medical Unit (his patent was applied for on July 1, 1943 and approved on June 6, 1944). Dr. Bulbulian and his colleagues, Dr. Walter M. Boothby and Dr. W. Randolph Lovelace II, had previously designed a nasal oxygen mask in the late 1930s. Known as the “B.L.B.”, (the designer’s initials, which also appear on the face mask of the A-14) it became the Army Air Corp’s type B-7 mask. In development since late 1941, the A-14 mask was manufactured by the Ohio Chemical and Manufacturing Company starting in the spring of 1943 and functioned as a component of the low pressure diluter-demand oxygen system that was adopted for use in all Army Air Force aircraft by the end of 1942.
There are actually three main kinds of oxygen masks used by pilots and crews who fly at high altitudes: continuous flow, diluter demand, and pressure demand. The first successful creation for the oxygen mask was by Armenian born Dr. Arthur Bulbulian, in the field of facial prosthetics.
In a continuous-flow system, oxygen is provided to the user continuously. It does not matter if the user is exhaling or inhaling as oxygen is flowing from the time the system is activated. Below the oxygen mask is a rebreather bag that collects oxygen during exhalation and as a result allows a higher flow rate during the inhalation cycle.
Diluter-demand and pressure-demand masks supply oxygen only when the user inhales. They each require a good seal between the mask and the user’s face.
In a diluter-demand system, as the altitude increases (ambient pressure, and therefore the partial pressure of ambient oxygen, decreases), the oxygen flow increases such that the partial pressure of oxygen is roughly constant. Diluter-demand oxygen systems can be used up to 40,000 feet.
In a pressure-demand system, oxygen in the mask is above ambient pressure, permitting breathing above 40,000 feet.Because the pressure inside the mask is greater than the pressure around the user’s torso, inhalation is easy, but exhalation requires more effort. Aviators are trained in pressure-demand breathing in altitude chambers. Because they seal tightly, pressure-demand-type oxygen masks are also used in hyperbaric oxygen chambers and for oxygen breathing research projects with standard oxygen regulators.
Many designs of aviator's oxygen masks contain a microphone to transmit speech to other crew members and to the aircraft's radio. Military aviators' oxygen masks have face pieces that partially cover the sides of the face and protect the face against flash burns, flying particles, and effects of a high speed air stream hitting the face during emergency evacuation from the aircraft by ejection seat or parachute. They are often part of a pressure suit or intended for use with a flight helmet.
An early 1919 high-altitude oxygen system used a vacuum flask of liquid oxygen to supply two people for one hour at 15,000 feet (4,600 m). The liquid passed through several warming stages before use, as expansion when it evaporated, and absorbed latent heat of vaporization, would make the gasified oxygen so cold that it could cause instant frostbite of the lungs