That time the Air Force used bears as ejection seat dummies

On Mar. 21, 1962 a B-58 Hustler from the U.S. Air Force erupted in flames as a large, bright red capsule shot out of it, carrying a passenger to safety.

GIF: US Air Force Archives

YouTube/AVhistorybuff GIF

But the passenger wasn’t a pilot, and the plane wasn’t crashing. The event was a test of the B-58’s experimental ejection capsules and the occupant of the capsule was a bear.

GIF: US Air Force Archives

YouTube/AVhistorybuff GIF

The Air Force had been struggling to figure out a safe way for pilots to eject at supersonic speeds. Initially, they had tested new ejection seat designs by hiring people they recruited out of unemployment lines to act as test dummies.

The Air Force soon switched to using live animals for the tests, including six bears and a chimpanzee. At first, the bears and other animals tested ejection seats and capsules on rocket sleds. Once the Air Force was relatively sure of the design, they began flying the aircraft and ejecting the animals at altitude.

The animals were given drugs and rigged with sensors before being placed in the ejection capsules.

GIF: US Air Force Archives

YouTube/AVhistorybuff GIF

Most were fine, if a bit loopy, when they landed.

There was one fatality among the animals during testing. One bear had a brain condition that wasn’t detected prior to the flight and the physical strain during the ejection killed the animal. Two other bears suffered minor fractures and bruising during their flights.

Unfortunately, the Air Force needed to be sure that there were no hidden injuries before they returned to human subjects and ordered autopsies, which resulted in the deaths of the animals that had otherwise survived testing.

See the video below:

Today, advanced crash test dummies are used in the testing of military hardware.

h/t Cracked.com and i09.com.

TOP ARTICLES
This is how John Kelly shut down speculation on President Trump's gold star family call

"If you're not in the family, if you've never worn the uniform, if you've never been in combat, you can't even imagine how to make that call," Kelly said.

Blumhouse and WATM team up to produce 'Searching for Bergdahl'

Blumhouse Television and WATM are teaming up to produce the documentary "Searching for Bergdahl," the untold story of the seven-year search for the missing soldier.

This is the real reason John McCain's Liberty Medal speech was so epic

When US media focused on a jab at President Trump, they missed the parting thoughts of a veteran and public servant of more than 60 years.

This little bot can take a lickin' and keep on tickin' for troops on assault

Weighing a little over five pounds, the FirstLook can handle being thrown into a hostile environment.

This is one of the deadliest kamikaze attacks caught on film

Japanese kamikaze pilots struck fear in the hearts of allied troops as they conducted choreographed nose-dives right into U.S. warships during WWII.

This is what it was like fighting alongside Afghan troops

In nearly every war in which America has taken part, troops have had to work alongside local forces who aren't always very motivated to fight.

This is how AC/DC helped save a POW in Mogadishu

The ending of "Black Hawk Down" was just slightly different than Ridley Scott showed. It was a moment former POW Mike Durant would never forget.

Russia is buying more of these 'Fullback' fighter jets — and they're pretty impressive

The Russian Ministry of Defense says it just got four more SU-34 bombers, and they're impressive AF. We have the details and video for you here.

More than 100 killed in Taliban attacks across Afghanistan

The Afghan Defense Ministry is reporting over 100 Afghan deaths in October. The Taliban killed Afghan police officers and soldiers, and civilians.

The US Navy just launched an effort to built this is the super-stealthy submarine

The USS South Dakota — a Block-III Virginia Class attack submarine — has officially been christened. We have the details and how it compares to its peers.