the early nineties, tests were underway at NASA Dryden with the
revolutionary X-31. Used on this aircraft was a GEC Marconi
One of these helmets turned up on eBay a couple of years ago.
The seller was in the surplus tool and equipment business out of
New York State. He claimed to have purchased it at a surplus
auction from Grumman Aerospace ( Northrop-Grumman ) who is also
located near New York City. He stated in his description that it
was used with the F-14 and cost the Government $15,000.00 It is
not uncommon for items at auctions like this to sometimes have a
tag or invoice that shows original purchase value.
It is not know if this helmet really was used on the Tomcat but
following information shows its links with the X-31 program.
This particular helmet has a tag stating GEC Avionics Limited,
IHD (Intergrated Helmet Display) serial number 001.
X-31 Viper helmet:
Installation of a Helmet Mounted Visual/Audio Display (HMVAD)
was completed on the X-31 (aircraft No. 2) in October 1993. The
purpose of the HMVAD is to provide out-of-the-cockpit situation
awareness and a simulated helmet-mounted sight to the pilot
during high angle of attack combat maneuvering.
The system consisted of a GEC Viper helmet with symbology
projected on its visor by a monocular Cathode Ray Tube. Also
included was a Polhemus head tracker and an angle-of-attack
audio cueing device. Both of these features were demonstrated on
the X-31 during post-stall close-in combat, a first for any
aircraft. The head tracker can be seen on the pictures. The
monoculars are adjustable by turning a knob on the helmet.
with this helmet came a pair of glasses with apparently a
holographic use, made by CEG aswell. The helmet also came fitted
with a boom mic, and you can see the mount in one image. It is
removed in the images. The nape support is adjustable as are the
individual earcups via three separate knobs utilizing strings
that wind up when you turn the knobs. The leather liner is named
to the pilot who used it. The type of mask used is not know. He
helmet on these pictures is fitted with the MBU-14/P navy style
mask for the images only.
X-31 program logged an X-Plane record total of 524 flights in 52
months with 14 pilots from NASA, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps,
U.S. Air Force, German Air Force, DASA, Rockwell International,
and Deutsche Aerospace, flying the aircraft. Seen on this
picture is Maj. Quirin Kim ready to fly the NASA T-38.
British company GEC-Marconi Avionics developed several helmet
displays, ranging from the simple Alpha Sight, Viper I and II to
the fully integrated Crusader system. Nowadays, Marconi is an
intergrated part of BAe.
Special thanks to Milehigh
and NASA Dryden for their pictures.