Bristol 138A: Under Pressure.

The 138A was a large research monoplane specially conceived in the early 1930s to explore high altitude flight and, eventually, to capture the record. A very neat design well suited for the task, it had a low wing load of only 9.57 pounds per square foot its engine, a 460hp Bristol Pegasus, was fitted with a two-speed supercharger.
Sqn Ldr F.R.D. Swain being helped out of the Bristol Type 138A (K4879) Farnborough, Sept 1936. To protect the pilot a a RAF designed pressure suit was employed. Swain captured the record with an altitude of 49.967 feet in 28 Sept 1936. A failure of this pressure suit during the descent seriously impaired Swain visibility and caused even more serious breathing problems. He was forced to cut the suit visor open with a knife in order to maintain consciousness. All ended well.

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