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John Stapp riding the "Sonic Wind" during a 421-mph ride in March 1954
Quoted from In the mid-1940s, an Air Force physician named John Stapp began to suspect that it was the mangling effects of a crash and not the G's that killed pilots. Hoping to improve cockpit safety, Stapp set out to determine just what humans could take in the way of G forces. He built a rocket-powered sled, the "Gee Whiz," which accelerated a tightly strapped-in body—initially a dummy but soon Stapp himself—to extraordinarily high speeds along a track before coming to an almost unimaginably abrupt stop. By the late summer of 1948, Stapp had done 16 runs himself and withstood up to 35 G's. He lost dental fillings, cracked a few ribs, and twice broke a wrist, but he survived. Still he was not satisfied. Eager to know what pilots ejecting at high speed could endure in terms of sudden deceleration, Stapp built a new sled called "Sonic Wind" in the early 1950s. On what became his final run, in December 1954, Stapp decided to pull out all the stops. Firing nine solid-fuel rockets, his sled accelerated to 632 miles per hour in five seconds, slamming him into two tons of wind pressure, then came to a stop in just over one second. A witness said it was "absolutely inconceivable anybody could go that fast, then just stop, and survive." But Stapp did—in fact, he went on to live another 45 years, dying quietly at home in 1999 at the age of 89—and he experienced a record-breaking 46.2 G's. For an instant, his 168-pound body had weighed over 7,700 pounds.

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Samsara Blu-Ray & DVD

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