FLIGHT, said John Glenn, paraphrasing an aviation truth on the eve of his second space mission, isn't inherently dangerous but can be unforgiving of the ill-prepared. The same might be said of the physician who seeks to support those in the cockpit. However, in what now is the US Air Force, the School of Aerospace Medicine has been preparing physicians for this challenge since before the 77-year-old Glenn was born and now is entering its ninth decade of doing so.
Almost as soon as aircraft became part of the military inventory, US Army and Navy (a separate US Air Force didn't exist until 1947) physicians realized that they must play a key role if humans were to fly safely. As early as February of 1912, the US Army ordered its medical officers to rigorously examine all aviation candidates.
Gunby P. Air Force School Celebrates "Supporting the Flier". JAMA. 1998;280(24):2066. doi:10.1001/jama.280.24.2066-JMN1223-5-1
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