Around 1965, the first fiber helmets appeared on the marketing, replacing the earlier copper and brass helmets which had set the standard up to that time. One of these newer helmets was the LAMA, designed by French designer Tves Le Masson in the early 1970’s.
The dome of the Lama is made of acrylic plastic and is very durable and shock-resistant, much like the front glass of any modern diving helmet in production now. The dome was designed so strong that one commercial diving instructor is known to have demonstrated it’s strength by repeatedly hitting it with a sedge hammer, which bounced back without leaving a mark.
The Lama was used in commercial diving in Europe in the 70’s, and sometimes combined with a backpack for mixed gas diving. The system featured a computer in the backpack that calculated the gas mixture depending on the depth – very cutting edge, especially at the time.
In the spring of 1999, the BBC broadcasted the series SEA TREK. In the series (about coral reefs all over the world), presenters Martha Holmes and Mike Degruy both wear a Lama helmet. With a 2-way communications system installed, they could speak with each other and viewers could hear (and see) them speak. The Lama was also used in the science-fiction film industry – the dome structure not only provides great visibility for the diver looking out, but filmmakers also like it because cameras and the viewers can see the face and hear the voice of the presenter speaking underwater.
Do you have a Lama helmet, or parts for one? If so, please drop us an email by clicking here! We’re helping the Undersea Voyager Project who is seeking parts for an existing helmet (specifically, parts for the regulator), and we would also love to hear your Lama diving stories!