Crash test dummies were invented in 1949, which makes it even more surprising that in the 1950s the U.S. Air Force tested ejector seats on top of its aircraft and put live bears in chairs. In 1950, the Atomic Bomb Conveyor B-58 Hostler was built. It was the most successful bomber capable of March 2 flights (traveling at twice the speed of sound). It wasn’t so great if you wanted to go somewhere fast in the cold, but if you didn’t want the place as ground.
When the technology was a tremendous improvement, moving so fast meant pilots could no longer get out of their aircraft safely and so a new system had to be designed. The idea that came with it had two steps. First, pull the pre-ejection handle to the pilot’s leg and place the piece in the capsule in pieces. The capsule supplied with food and water for the pilot would slowly descend to the ground or above the water floating in the water, waiting for rescue.
As you imagined, the capsule was not immediately approved and had to go through tests on Baker and Bear (who you could argue were also Baker). Gizmodo said that before conducting further experiments with American black bears, Himalayan brown bears and chimpanzees, Gizmodo said that American citizens were recruited on the basis of unemployment, which was tested on the land.
The idea was that the animals would mimic the weight and size of a human pilot. Instead of using crash test dummies to do this, they simply drugged a bear and stamped it on the ejector seat. The bears took it to the final testing stage, where they were let out while the plane was flying. Bears and chimpanzees were used to learn about potential flaws in capsule design. As you can hear in the video above, flaws can be discovered in how the bear rejects seats by finding broken bones.
The capsule was then tweeted and re-tested on animals. Finally a capsule was not designed that was safe for human pilots. The bears suffered various injuries during the test at different heights and speeds. The injuries were mostly broken bones and other wounds, although all of them survived long enough to be euthanized at a later date. After which, they were isolated. The bomber retired less than a decade later.
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