The effects of+ Gz force on the bone mineral density of fighter pilots

Document Type

Journal Article


Aerospace Medical Association


Computing, Health and Science


Biomedical and Sports Science




Originally published as: Naumann, F. L., Bennell, K. L., & Wark, J. D. (2001). The effects of+ Gz force on the bone mineral density of fighter pilots. Aviation, space, and environmental medicine, 72(3), 177-181. Original article available here


HYPOTHESIS: Bone is a metabolically active tissue which responds to high strain loading. The purpose of this study was to examine the bone response to high +Gz force loading generated during high performance flying. METHODS: The bone response to +Gz force loading was monitored in 10 high performance RAAF pilots and 10 gender-, age-, height-, weight-matched control subjects. The pilots were stationed at the RAAF base at Pearce, Western Australia, all completing the 1-yr flight training course. The pilots flew the Pilatus PC-9 aircraft, routinely sustaining between 2.0 and 6.0 +Gz. Bone mineral density (BMD) and bone mineral content (BMC) were measured at baseline and 12 mo, using the Hologic QDR 2000+ bone densitometer. RESULTS: After controlling for change in total body weight and fat mass, the pilots experienced a significant increase in BMD and BMC for thoracic spine, pelvis, and total body, in the magnitude of 11.0%, 4.9%, and 3.7%, respectively. However, no significant changes in bone mineral were observed in the pilots lumbar spine, arms or legs. The control group experienced a significant decrease in pelvic BMC, with no other bone mineral changes observed at any site. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that site specific BMD is increased in response to high +Gz forces generated during high performance flying in a PC-9.