December 23, 2012

Drugged bears used as test pilots during Cold War

io9 on the flying bears

The "science" blog io9 has exposed information about testing practices used by the U.S. Air Force during the Cold War. When developing the B-58 Hustler, a supersonic jet bomber used between 1962-70, black bears from the U.S. and the Himalayas were used to test the functionality of the plane´s capsule ejection system. The bear, presumably not actually piloting the plane, would sit in the capsule which would then be ejected from the plane with a rocket engine and subsequently fall to the ground with a parachute. Having first used unemployed people as test subjects in ground-based trials, drugged bears and chimps were used for high altitude testing, some of them suffering fractures and other internal injuries.

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