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When the USAF "out-Flite Tested" Flite Test...

Hoomi

Master member
#1
Saw this shared on Facebook this weekend, and figured it needed to be shared here.

21 March 1962: Sixty-years ago this week, a supersonic flight test of the B-58A Hustler’s crew escape system was successfully conducted with a black bear named Yogi as the test subject. Ejection took place with the test aircraft maintaining a speed of 850 mph at 35,000 feet. The USAF/Convair B-58A Hustler was the world’s first operational supersonic strategic bomber. With a GTOW of 176,000 lbs and powered by a quartet of General Electric J79-GE-5A turbojets, the aircraft featured a maximum speed of Mach 2 at 40,000 feet. The Hustler air crew consisted of a pilot, bombardier/navigator and defensive systems officer seated in separate, tandem flight stations. When the Hustler entered the operational inventory in 1960, standard ejection seats were used for air crew emergency egress. However, the chances of surviving a supersonic ejection in the B-58A or any other aircraft were quite low due to severe wind blast and exposure effects. The resolution of this issue came in the form of an encapsulation system that protected the crew member during ejection, deceleration, parachute deployment and landing. Upon activation, clamshell doors would close and seal the crew member in the escape capsule. The entire assembly was then fired out the top of the aircraft and into the air stream. Flight testing of this system was initially performed using bears due to the similarity of their internal organ arrangement with that of a man’s. On Wednesday, 21 March 1962, a 2-year old female black bear named Yogi served as the first live test subject. The tranquilized bear survived the ride upstairs, the ejection event, 7.5 minute parachute descent and landing with no apparent ill effect. Subsequent testing with other bears helped prove the escape system’s airworthiness. Although many sources claim that this was the first supersonic ejection of a live creature, such is not the case. That particular distinction (if it can be called that) goes to North American Aviation pilot George F. Smith who bailed out of his stricken F-100 Super Sabre at 777 mph on Sunday, 26 February 1955. Although battered and terribly injured in the process, Smith survived and lived to fly another day.
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#10
I love the line: "The worst job in the Air Force at that time......"
Now they just get random idiots to test them. I once signed up to test F-35 life support gear in a centrifuge. Ill admit i cant make it past 7 g's before passing out with a g suit. Never again. I did get $350 per month special duty pay during that though. I was once one of said idiots.
 

Mr NCT

Elite member
#11
Now they just get random idiots to test them. I once signed up to test F-35 life support gear in a centrifuge. Ill admit i cant make it past 7 g's before passing out with a g suit. Never again. I did get $350 per month special duty pay during that though. I was once one of said idiots.
The military doesn't change much. I had a friend (since deceased) who was one of the troops used a Guinea pigs for the atomic bomb tests - no choice, his unit was just loaded up and shipped to the test sight.
 

Piotrsko

Master member
#13
Now they just get random idiots to test them. I once signed up to test F-35 life support gear in a centrifuge. Ill admit i cant make it past 7 g's before passing out with a g suit. Never again. I did get $350 per month special duty pay during that though. I was once one of said idiots.
If you made 7 then you are 4 better than me and I had to pay for the privilege. One of the reasons my wife is convinced my aviation schemes are a total waste of money.
 
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#14
If you made 7 then you are 4 better than me and I had to pay for the privilege. One of the reasons my wife is convinced my aviation schemes are a total waste of money.
I had a G suit on and they gave us like a 2 hour training on how to squeeze our blood up and breathing techniques. The fighter pilots loved to go in there and show off how much they could take, and quite a few people were able to do more than me. I couldn't do it now that I am older, I get dizzy on rollercoasters. There was one pilot that did 11gs and walked out like nothing happened.

But testing on us enlisted knuckledraggers is nothing new. At least we had the option!