Fighter pilots are awesome because they make gravity look optional, and they do it at supersonic speeds. But flying tight maneuvers at high-Gs takes a toll on the human spine, and fighter pilots often suffer lifelong injuries that forces many of them into an early retirement.
That's why Col. Todd Hofford, an Oregon Air National Guard F-15 pilot, just broke a major barrier by becoming the first pilot in the world to return to the cockpit of a high-G fighter after undergoing disc replacement surgery, which until now, the Air Force has been hesitant to allow.
"I was determined to turn this around," said Hofford in a recent article by Tech Sgt. Steph Sawyer for the 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs. "I knew it was going to take time. I needed to be patient."
In 2009, the Department of Defense introduced the so-called 'Golden Hour' mandate. This led to the development of systems that ensured the injured warfighter access to surgical care within 60 minutes of injury.