Trivia Teaser

Question: Under what circumstances can it be beneficial for pilots to emit grunting noises?
A) when performing aerobatic maneuvers
B) during descents to lower altitude, and during unintentional encounters with hypoxia
C) if a maximum of physical strength is required in an emergency
D) all three

Answer: Choice A is correct (of course). That’s probably no big news, but…so are a couple of the other answers. Some pilots use a technique called the Valsalve maneuver, named after Antonio Maria Valsalva (1666-1723), an Italian anatomist, to prevent black outs during high-performance flying. The Valsalva Maneuver involves grunting and tightening the abdominal muscles to stop blood from pooling in the wrong parts of the body. (It is used as a diagnostic tool to evaluate the condition of the heart and is sometimes done as a treatment to correct abnormal heart rhythms or relieve chest pain.) The first part of choice B is also probably no big news to you. This is what pilots (and passengers) are always advised to try if they have trouble equalizing the pressure on both side of either of their eardrums, on their way down from a higher altitude (although I’m sure it could be done discreetly without making cave man noises). But during conditions of reduced oxygen pressure, if you are ever without sufficient supplemental oxygen for reasons beyond your control, there is also evidence to support the practice of temporarily-and this is only good for a few seconds-providing your own internal pressure supply oxygen system by taking a deep breath, holding your mouth closed, and grunting to pressurize your lungs. As for choice C, there is legitimate scientific evidence to show that shouting and grunting with the application of force can significantly increase strength. The final answer is choice D.