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Review of Check Mate Pulse Oximeter for pilots

December 2007

If you spend any time at all at higher altitudes in a non-pressurized plane, it would be a good idea to have a oximeter. What is an oximeter you ask? An oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood.

As pilots, we know that we are required to use supplemental oxygen when we are flying above 12,500 feet for more than 30 minutes (and full-time when above 14,000 feet). But wouldn't it be nice if there was a way to determine if we or our passengers might need oxygen at lower altitudes? It's also nice to be able to determine if you're getting sufficient oxygen at higher altitudes even if you're using supplemental oxygen.

Check Mate Pulse Oximeter for pilots
Check Mate Pulse Oximeter
The Check Mate Pulse Oximeter is a compact and easy to use oximeter that displays your pulse rate and oxygen levels. You simply slip it on a finger and within a few minutes the small LCD screen displays your readings.

I have to say that I really love this device. We often fly with other passengers. We like to fly as high as we can without making them uncomfortable (which includes trying to avoid having them wear oxygen masks). Passing around the oximeter at altitude gives us a quick status report on everybody.

On one particular summer trip I was flying with three other friends to Colorado. Because we needed mountain clearance, we needed to fly at 11,500. Once we reached altitude, we passed around the oximeter. Most of us were in the mid to high 90% oxygen levels and felt fine. However, one of the passengers (who claimed to be fine at high altitudes) had a reading of 73%. Around this same time he began to feel ill. We immediately put him on oxygen and his oxygen level rose (according to the oximeter).

When flying higher, rather than using oxygen masks, we use cannulas with oxygen flow valves. The valves have flow meters that can be manually adjusted based on an altitude scale. The oximeter really comes in handy by verifying that we are getting the oxygen that we need and allowing us to adjust the oxygen flow up or down (regardless of what the flow scale recommends).

Fly Safe!

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