February 26, 2010
How does it feel to eject from an aircraft going nearly 800 miles per hour?
But test pilot George Smith managed to survive his harrowing ordeal on this day in 1955, after bailing out of an F-100A diving at Mach 1.05 toward the ocean. As recounted in TIME magazine months later, the 40-g deceleration literally knocked Smith’s socks off—along with his helmet, shoes, gloves, wristwatch and ring. Read the account here.
In those days the Air Force was running tests on chimpanzees to see if they could survive ejections at even faster speeds. One set of experiments, which mercifully no one would even propose today, went by the name of Project Whoosh. Some of the subjects did in fact live through Mach 1 ejections.
So did F-15 pilot Brian Udell, whose 1995 bail-out is described here and in the video below:
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