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Why do military wear gloves?

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Why do military wear gloves?

Old 28th Feb 2005, 20:43
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Why do military wear gloves?

Hi all,
A friend asked me the other day why military pilots wear gloves and commercial pilots don't.I laughed and said how daft he sounded then i kinda twigged that i didn't know either!
Is there a practical reason or is it purely for show?

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Old 28th Feb 2005, 20:58
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Probably for the same reason they wear fireproof flying suits.

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Old 28th Feb 2005, 20:59
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One reason, it is required protection in the event of fire.
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Old 28th Feb 2005, 22:09
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Perhaps their hands sweat more?

I'm not military and I wear gloves. In the winter to keep my hands warm and in the summer because they sweat. And you all really wanted to know that! My instructor, ex-army, didn't.


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Old 1st Mar 2005, 04:16
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It's required by the military.. as in you don't have a choice. It is for fire protection though.
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Old 1st Mar 2005, 04:31
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Most purposes are protective and a few decoratives thrown in for good measure.


1. Fire - obvious.
2. Cold - in winter and high lattitudes.
3. Cold - ejection/bail out at the higher altitudes.
4. Injury protection when fumbling around some poorly finished cockpits/flight decks having protruding screws and sharp edges.
5. Finger retention for those who persist in wearing rings against military orders to the contrary. How many have lost fingers resulting from a ring which gets caught up on some protrusion when exiting from a fighter type aircraft.

Decoratives and dual purpose.

1. Some Captains' affectation
2. As Uniform - VIP aircrew
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Old 1st Mar 2005, 07:53
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I'm with you on that one! I started wearing gloves 'cos I got all nervous etc when I was learning to fly and felt I was wiping my hands on my trousers too much. Gloves eliminated all that and stopped me worrying about it. I don't get so nervous any more but I still like wearing the golves. They're also great in an open or unheated cockpit, power or glider. I don't have a problem writing or operating any knobs or dials.

I was duty pilot on Sunday and gloves were great for fuelling up and shoving the a/c about etc as well as for flying. The same people who took the rise out of me for wearing gloves were complaining about the bitter cold and how hard it was to operate with frozen fingers. Tough! I thought.

One tip someone gave me, though. If you wear the nice white thin leather ones, do an oil change in them before you let anyone see you wearing them!

I've only seen 2 big jet pilots wearing gloves, though, a DC10 f/0 and a 146 Captain, so I guess it's pretty rare. Perhaps they never get nervous.

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Old 1st Mar 2005, 07:58
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Plus in a multi-crew aircraft at night, a white glove ensures that the FE can see what the pilots are doing with their hands before they break anything; similarly in fast jets a white-gloved hand makes formation hand signals much clearer.

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Old 1st Mar 2005, 08:08
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You mean BA Captains no longer wear white gloves?
Old 1st Mar 2005, 08:18
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Do you mean the ones with 'L' & 'R' on the backs?

I thought they stopped 'cos Nigel's mum didn't like them.


ps, talking of gloves...
One of the most common items of FOD on the airfield are gloves. We guess they come from the pushback crews, but why are they always RIGHT gloves, never left? When they drop them, don't they notice they're only wearing one? A life mystery...
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Old 1st Mar 2005, 08:50
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Also worth bearing in mind that the aircon on many mil aircraft is neglible or non-existant. Under the bubble of a Bulldog or a Gazelle even in the miserly summer sun of the UK could get very hot.
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Old 1st Mar 2005, 09:44
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Exclamation korea

i saw a few first officers in asiana's 737s wear them.
i never asked why though.

i've only seen a few others in commercial jets

i find it hard enough to keep track of earplugs and sunglasses.

i wear gloves in the winter but not to fly with. and have lost a few along the way.
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Old 1st Mar 2005, 10:45
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Not convinced of the fire , and especially not the thermal properties, of kid leather gloves. No cold protection at all. Nomex, not used them, but I suspect much better.

As for commercial guys wearing them, a certain easyjet skipper is the subject of much ribbing for his white leather gloves. Sweaty hands apparently.

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Old 1st Mar 2005, 13:54
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Thermal qualities of kid leather gloves are quite poor (as are that of nomex suit - it won't light or melt if subjected to a flame but if temp is 1000 degrees outside the cloth it will also be 1000 degrees inside it - that is why one must also wear a thermal layer of a natural material (usually cotton long-johns and roll neck) for fire protection.

Same is true of the gloves, they should be worn with silk liners.

(When hovering a gazelle in Kenya cockpit temp can get pretty high - well over 40 degrees - not many wear the thermal layer there!)
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Old 1st Mar 2005, 14:10
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Nomex flight gear

The U.S military (and some others as well) use Nomex flight suits and gloves, and in some cases, flight jackets as well.

Contrary to popular belief, Nomex is NOT fire-proof. It is fire-retartant, and will burn eventually, given time.

Military flight crew are required to wear them in case of fire, especially cockpit / electrical fire. Imagine you're not wearing gloves and a fire breaks out near your flight controls (I'm exaggerating)... it would be quite difficult to fly the aircraft then...

I am a former military pilot, and now undergoing commerical training, and I still wear my gloves to fly. Also helps for your pre-flight checks... dun wanna get cut or anything when checking the plane out... Frankly, I think it is a good idea to wear them to fly.
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Old 1st Mar 2005, 14:56
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Leather gloves can be bad news in a fire. Some types of leather will shrink when exposed to heat. If that happens, you don't want your hands inside them.

This is one of many things considered when selecting gloves for air crew.
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Old 1st Mar 2005, 15:41
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As you need you digits (well most of them) to do almost everything in a military cockpit, protection of them is given high importance. Leather gloves are a cost effective means of providing durable garments.

In addition to protection from the heat from short-duration "flash-fires" various other gloves or glove combinations exist. There are immersion gloves which have a rubber wrist seal and are treated with a water-repelent substance to help in the sea survival case. Under these you would normally wear a thin pair of silk "immersion glove inners" to help improve the thermal qualities and/or absorb sweat.

In addition there are gloves which help protect agaist some of the "nastier" weapons of modern conflicts (chem/bio).

As with all things in life it is a matter for compromise, protection versus utility, there is no one pair of gloves that can cater for all eventualities and still allow you to podge buttons and tinker with switches.

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Old 1st Mar 2005, 18:28
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Gloves for fire protection

White for conspicuity or high visibility for the unwashed amongst you. Due to the vast number of highly demanding and very cool formation trips we fly, which require hand signals between pilots, an easily seen colour was required.

Just thought I would add this to stop the amount of spurious **** already on this thread

Plus they also have the benefit of making you fly better, if you put a piece of string connecting the two it reminds you to pull back on the throttle when you push the stick forward win, win situation really,


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Old 2nd Mar 2005, 19:56
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In my early mil flying career I wore Nomex gloves as part of my fashionable Nomex flight suit ensemble because it was required. However, one day I ended up flying with an old aircraft commander who had been in an runway overrun accident some years before. Everyone had gotten out of the aircraft, but not until after a flash fire had erupted. This gentleman had been wearing his gloves, but because the day was hot and humid, had rolled his flight suit sleeves up a couple of turns during preflight. He had perfect burn scars all the way round his arms in that area above the point where the glove ended and below where his rolled-up sleeve began. Burns to that bit of exposed skin on each arm was the only damage he had suffered.

From that day forward I wore them because I thought it was a good idea, not because they were required. True, when itís 1000 degrees outside of the flight suit it is pretty much a safe bet that itís 1000 degrees inside the flight suit. In such cases of prolonged exposure to heat Nomex isnít going to save you. However, there ARE occasions where Nomex CAN help, and like everything else related to aviation safety, you hedge your bets when you can. To this end, when I fly as a passenger even today I opt for new jeans and a cotton shirt because I believe that in a fire they just might give me a second or two that I wouldn't otherwise have. I'll take those seconds anywhere I can get them. In a case like this where there's little downside to dressing in this manner, the cost/benefit analysis seems to favor natural fibers over stuff that'll melt to your skin at the first sign of danger...

The point about rings is also well-taken. I had a healthy respect for the ring rule and never wore any around the aircraft. However, I am convinced that having my gloves on and tucked into the sleeves of my flight suit saved me being strung up by my watch band on more than one occasion.

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Old 3rd Mar 2005, 09:54
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I m with Whirlygig and TheoddOne too...

I ve always got sweaty palms - not sure if its fear thou or just cos it seems to get so hot in helicopters.

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