JET FUELED STUPIDITY!
When the Arizona Highway Patrol spotted a mashed pile of smouldering wreckage embedded in the side of a cliff, the damage was so great that the vehicle was completely unrecognisable. But from the scale of destruction, they thought it had to have been a plane crash. They were wrong: it was a car.
It took a long time to work out how a car had been so thoroughly destroyed, but investigators eventually pieced together the story.
The driver had somehow managed to obtain a Jet-Assisted Take-Off unit, known to the US Air Force as a JATO. JATOs are used to give heavy military transport planes an extra `push' to assist them in taking-off from short runways. They are very simple devices: they're just solid fuel rockets which, once ignited, provide a great deal of thrust for around 30 seconds before burning themselves out. (The solid-fuel boosters used to launch the Space Shuttle are essentially just very large JATO units.)
Having obtained the JATO, the driver drove out into the Arizona Desert, found himself a long straight road and attached it to his Chevy. He then jumped in, got up to speed and pressed the ignition switch.
What happened next is a mixture of accident investigation, forensic analysis and speculation. But it went something like this.
The driver ignited the unit approximately 3.9 miles from the crash site. This much is known, as the rocket melted the asphalt on the road. Assuming that the JATO unit functioned according to specifications, it would have reached maximum thrust within approximately five seconds. At this point, the car would have been travelling at a conservative 350 mph. The Chevy would have maintained this speed for a further 20-25 seconds. The G-forces experienced by the driver would have been roughly equivalent to those experienced by fighter-pilots using full after-burners.
The car remained on the road for 2.5 miles. At this point, the driver applied the brakes. Modern car brakes are extremely efficient, but they are not generally designed to slow a vehicle travelling at 350 mph against the continuing thrust of a solid-fuel rocket. The brakes melted and the tyres shredded, leaving investigators a handy marker for the point at which the brakes were applied.
The braking was not entirely without effect, however, for it is at this point police believe the car became airborne. The car climbed gently through the air for a further 1.4 miles. We know this because the impact point was in a cliff face at a height of 125 feet above ground level.
The cliff-face was solid rock, but the wreckage still managed to produce a blackened crater three feet deep.
Very little of the wreckage or driver were recognisable, but investigators did manage to isolate a few items. Fragments of bone, teeth and hair were found in the crater, and both fingernail and bone silvers were extracted from a piece of plastic believed to have once been a steering wheel.
A story courtesy of Ben Lovejoy from the North East London & Essex Group of the IAM.
That had to be sooo fun though!!!
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06-26-2003, 12:04 PM #1
Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!I havent failed, I've found 10,000 ways that don't work.
- Thomas Edison
06-26-2003, 12:07 PM #2
Dont know if that is true,the show "Myth Busters" on the Discovery channel put that to the test,It is "possible" but good luck getting JATO from the military they couldnt and AHP denys it ever happend. Just another Ur....well rural legned.
06-26-2003, 12:18 PM #3
Not having experienced the call, I can only imagine the primary thought of every rescuer (despite having a DB somewhere in the wreck) was basically WTF?
06-26-2003, 02:05 PM #4Resident Chaplain of the IACOJ
06-26-2003, 03:39 PM #5
06-26-2003, 04:57 PM #6
- Join Date
- Oct 2002
- Walton County Georgia
Yes I remember this going floating around the internet here awhile back, and that it was only an urban legend...
06-26-2003, 11:50 PM #7
- Join Date
- Sep 2002
You think they sell them on E-Bay?
06-27-2003, 09:12 PM #8
- Join Date
- Oct 2002
Not to mention you have to get the right equipment to ignite it. You don't just hold a match to themGFIRE
06-29-2003, 07:29 PM #9
- Join Date
- Aug 2000
- Drifting on a raft in the Carribean Ocean listening to Buffet.
That would be cool to do I must say.
I was out in the desert of southern Cali in '95 in a place called El Centro. The Navy has a flight center there. The Blue Angles go there for the winter mainly because the weather is good. We happened to be in the club one night with them and they were talking about how they have these JATO's on a C-130. They said that when you reach the "break over" point on take off you experience zero gravity for a short period of time. I believe that if this story were true it may have occured here as well.
Fact or Fiction??
06-29-2003, 07:44 PM #10
Why do they call them "Jet Assisted" when they are rockets?
Never mind...we're talking about the Air Force.Steve Gallagher
"I don't apologize for anything. When I make a mistake, I take the blame and go on from there." - Woody Hayes
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