Author(s): Yesavage JA, Dolhert N, Taylor JL
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: To determine if older pilots forgot more about a learned flight task after a 10-month delay than did younger pilots and if the anticipated greater skill loss led older pilots' performance to be more disrupted by alcohol. DESIGN: Repeated measures comparative group design examining the effects of alcohol versus placebo in two age groups (younger and older) and at two timepoints: acute intoxication, at a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.10\%, and 8 hours post-drink. SETTING: University medical center research laboratory. SUBJECTS: Fourteen younger (mean age = 27; SD = 4.21; range 21-34) and 13 older (mean age = 60; SD = 6.27; range 51-69) pilots, recruited from local flying clubs, with current FAA medical certificates. METHODS: We examined the effects of alcohol versus placebo in the two age groups and at two times, ie, acute intoxication (target BAC 0.10\%) and 8-hour post-drink. Subjects flew a Frasca 141 simulator in a flight task that they had previously learned but not practiced for several months. After completing a baseline flight, pilots were tested during either an alcohol or a placebo condition at the two timepoints. The main outcome measure was a composite measure of flight performance based upon the mean of eight component standardized scores from different aspects of the flight task. RESULTS: We found detrimental effects of alcohol on the main outcome measure both at the acute and 8-hour post-drink testing. There was also no significant difference between the older and younger pilots' performance of the flight task or in susceptibility to alcohol either while intoxicated or during hangover. CONCLUSIONS: This study replicates the findings of earlier studies that an 8-hour waiting period from "Bottle-to-Throttle" is insufficient but finds little difference according to age in recollection of a previously learned task or in susceptibility to either acute or hangover effects of alcohol.
This article was published in J Am Geriatr Soc
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy