Ultra High-Speed Human Crash-Test Dummy
No matter how sophisticated the sensors or simulations, at some point a real human being has to be the first one to climb inside a new, dangerous machine and intentionally crash that sucker. If you're the type who enjoys the thought of taunting the Grim Reaper in exchange for a paycheck, you'll always have work.
Till the day you die. Which could be Tuesday,
For example, following World War II, the invention of steadily more souped-up airplanes presented a quandary: It was believed the extreme upper limit of human tolerance was 18 Gs, so a pilot bailing out of a damaged aircraft at speeds approaching the sound barrier was effectively a death sentence. Or was it?
Air Force flight surgeon John Paul Stapp knew there was only one way to find out. To do so, Stapp strapped himself onto a rocket-powered sled cleverly dubbed the Sonic Wind No. 1 and, in a series of increasingly insane tests in which he accelerated to speeds of up to Mach 0.9 before screeching to a halt so sudden that it burst every last motherfucking blood vessel in his eyeballs, proved that the human body could, in fact, withstand upwards of 40 Gs. Or at least it could if it was the clearly superhuman body of John Paul Stapp.
EAFB History Office
A lesser man would've launched his entire intestinal tract clear across the desert.
If it sounds like the stunt of a bygone era, let us introduce you to Rusty Haight, aka the Human Crash Dummy.
As the Director of the Collision Safety Institute, Haight has personally driven in more than 900 crash tests, because sometimes a non-meat-based crash dummy just isn't goddamned good enough. While he's never approached speeds measured in Machs, he has slammed into other vehicles at speeds of up to 55 miles per hour -- and he's done it hundreds of times, with little more than the occasional bump or bruise to show for it.
That's because he's able to combine his vast crash experience with a hefty dash of physics wizardry to predict the exact outcome of each crash and plan accordingly. In other words, if the guys from MythBusters had a baby with Luke Cage, and said baby was prone to reckless driving, that baby would be Rusty Haight. Okay, we realize we accidentally made this particular job sound awesome, but it's probably one of those things better admired from afar.
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What the Hell Did I Just Read: A Novel of Cosmic Horror, the third book in David Wong's John Dies at the End series, is available now!