Considering that fighter jets are built for speed and maneuverability with very little room to spare for comforts like a bathroom, you might be wondering how fighter pilots go to the bathroom to pee and poop.
Most fighter jet pilots use piddle packs and diapers to go to the bathroom during flights.
Fighter pilots avoid going to the bathroom during flights whenever possible because going to the bathroom in a fighter jet is uncomfortable, distracting, and can even be dangerous.
Piddle packs are most commonly used by male fighter jet pilots to urinate, although female fighter pilots can also use them.
Most fighter pilots won’t have to go to the bathroom during a flight because fighter jet missions are usually short. They will also go to the bathroom before their flight and will do their very best to hold it in until they land.
But, if they do have to go, piddle packs and diapers are usually the preferred solution.
Table of Contents
- 1 How Fighter Pilots Pee While Flying
- 2 How Fighter Pilots Poop in the Cockpit
- 3 How Piddle Packs Work
- 4 How Female Fighter Pilots Go to the Bathroom
- 5 Fighter Pilots Can Wear Diapers
- 6 The Best Time for Fighter Pilots to Go to the Bathroom
- 7 Fighter Pilots Won’t Minimize Their Water and Food Intake
- 8 Going to the Bathroom in a Fighter Jet Can Be Dangerous
How Fighter Pilots Pee While Flying
Male fighter pilots use piddle packs or relief tubes to urinate during long flights.
However, fighter pilots generally don’t pee during flights because their missions are short, and they’re told to visit the restroom before their flight.
So, it’s generally rare for fighter pilots to pee while flying.
When male fighter pilots have to pee, they normally either urinate into waste bags, which decompose urine.
Older planes have relief tubes, which involve urinating into a pipe that flushes the urine outside the aircraft.
Waste bags are more common than urinating into a tube nowadays because they are simpler to use. Modern fighter jets often have piddle-packs, which contain a gel that prepares the urine for disposal.
Female fighter pilots most often wear diapers for urination, since they can’t easily urinate into a tube.
Both male and female fighter pilots are encouraged to go to the restroom before take-off.
How Fighter Pilots Poop in the Cockpit
It’s not easy for fighter pilots to poop while flying.
Since flight suits are difficult to unlock and cockpits are cramped, creating a defecating tube inside a fighter jet is impractical.
Instead, fighter pilots either relieve themselves before a flight, wait until after their mission, or use diapers.
Diapers are commonly used by both male and female fighter pilots to relieve themselves, but going to the restroom before flights is strongly encouraged.
How Piddle Packs Work
A piddle pack is a urine collection device that’s often used in fighter jets by male fighter pilots.
A piddle pack normally consists of a small container with a dehydrated sponge inside that’s connected to a tube, which is then connected to an open funnel for the fighter pilot to pee into.
Fighter pilots usually have special zippers in their flight suits that can easily be opened for using piddle packs.
- The fighter pilot holds the funnel close to their urethral opening and urinates inside of it.
- The urine goes through the tube and enters the small container with the dehydrated sponge.
- The urine then saturates the sponge and fills the container.
The dehydrated sponge will often have disinfectants or odor-reducing substances. The piddle packs are designed for use while seated, so fighter pilots are minimally affected by having to urinate.
Since 2008, flight suits have been designed to allow urination without needing to open the suit.
For example, the Advanced Mission Extender Device (AMXD) includes a pump that drains urine into a bag for easy disposal.
How Female Fighter Pilots Go to the Bathroom
Female fighter pilots can use piddle packs like their male counterparts, but they often find them harder to use.
As a result, female fighter pilots use diapers more commonly than male counterparts if they have to go to the bathroom mid-flight.
Some female fighter pilots prefer using the aforementioned Advanced Mission Extender Device (AMXD) since it comes with a sanitary pad for women.
Overall, going to the bathroom in a flight is harder for female fighter pilots than male ones because of the difficulty in using piddle packs.
Fighter Pilots Can Wear Diapers
Yes, diapers are commonly used by fighter pilots to relieve themselves during flights.
Although both male and female fighter pilots use piddle packs, they are more commonly used by females.
Female fighter pilots report greater difficulty in using piddle packs, so they frequently use diapers for both urination and defecation.
Male fighter pilots normally only use diapers for defecation and not urination.
Diaper use may not be glamorous, but their usage involves the least amount of distraction from the mission, as piddle packs can be difficult to use, even for male fighter pilots.
The Best Time for Fighter Pilots to Go to the Bathroom
The best time for fighter pilots to go to the bathroom is before their flight.
The second-best time would be directly after their flight.
Going to the bathroom during the flight is the least-desirable option, especially when a fighter jet is refueling midair.
Fighter Pilots Won’t Minimize Their Water and Food Intake
No, in fact, fighter pilots normally eat before flying.
Fighter pilots are even allowed to bring food and drinks with them during a flight to keep them nourished.
Minimizing food and water intake before a flight would cause health and performance problems for fighter pilots.
Going to the Bathroom in a Fighter Jet Can Be Dangerous
Going to the bathroom in a fighter jet isn’t necessarily dangerous, so much as it is unhygienic and uncomfortable, but it can be.
However, it’s also possible for a fighter pilot to be distracted while going to the bathroom in a fighter jet, which can be dangerous.
It’s estimated that there have been at least nine fatal crashes involving F-16 fighter jets and an A-10 attack jet due to male pilots fumbling with piddle packs.
Overall, though, it’s generally safe to urinate in a piddle pack or defecate in a diaper while flying a fighter jet.
In conclusion, fighter pilots prefer going to the bathroom before take off since missions are usually short.
But, if needed, they can relieve themselves during a flight by using piddle packs and diapers.
Both male and female fighter pilots use diapers for defecation, but female pilots often use them for urination too because using piddle packs is harder for them.
While relieving themselves during a flight is generally safe for fighter pilots, it can be uncomfortable.
For that reason, fighter pilots are heavily encouraged to pee and poop before take off.
Helen Krasner holds a PPL(A), with 15 years experience flying fixed-wing aircraft; a PPL(H), with 13 years experience flying helicopters; and a CPL(H), Helicopter Instructor Rating, with 12 years working as a helicopter instructor.
Helen is an accomplished aviation writer with 12 years of experience, having authored several books and published numerous articles while also serving as the Editor of the BWPA (British Women Pilots Association) newsletter, with her excellent work having been recognized with her nomination of the “Aviation Journalist of the Year” award.
Helen has won the “Dawn to Dusk” International Flying Competition, along with the best all-female competitors, three times with her copilot.