1960s Scott “Aviox” Portable Oxygen System
By Michael Little
One thing that surprised me about my 1958 Cessna 172 was that it is somewhat lighter than newer models but the engine has the same
horsepower. This has some effect on the performance figures, especially at altitude; e.g. the cruise tables have a line for 12,500 feet. I've
never gone up that high but it made me wonder if previous owners may have taken advantage of that capability, and what it may have
been like to do that back when the airplane was new, in the late '50s early ‘60s.
As it happens, a Scott “Aviox” portable aviation oxygen system dating from the period appeared on eBay, and I got it. It shows evidence of
having been used fairly recently but doesn't work anymore, so far as I can tell. Its functionality is not a problem since my purpose wasn't
to actually employ it, except as a window into what flying was like 'way back when.
Although portable within the dictionary meaning of the term and designed to look and be handled like a suitcase, the system is pretty heavy
due to the high-pressure oxygen bottle, weighing in at 30½ pounds. It's also fairly bulky and rates a seat and seatbelt of its own for safety's
sake. To improve accessibility, so you don't have to open the whole thing up, the regulator and connection point for the masks is under a
zippered section that folds out of the way.
Instead of cannulas it came with some disposable masks in sealed paper envelopes. One package was open so I removed the mask for a
closer look. At first glance it seemed to be simply a clear plastic bag with a connector for the oxygen tube at the closed end and a very thin
elastic cord at the open end. Closer examination, however, showed a more sophisticated design with an inner mask and a strip of aluminum
in the nose area to mold it to your face. It is extremely light and comfortable, and looks like it wouldn’t interfere with communication at all.
I wonder why somebody hasn’t taken this idea and updated it?
As I’ve discovered, flying a classic airplane is more than just transportation. Besides traveling in the usual three dimensions it can take
you into the past. Personally, I get a kick out of these glimpses of times gone by!