It’s important that combat vehicles are pretty sturdy. And, right now, the only way to test their mettle is by crashing them. For tanks and cars, that means crashing them into walls. For a military helicopter that means dropping it from 30 feet in the air.
Here’s what the “chopper drop” looks like:
According to NASA, the helicopter had thirteen instruments inside to measure the impact and had 40 cameras inside and outside the chopper to record.
“We designed this test to simulate a severe but survivable crash under both civilian and military requirements,” said NASA lead test engineer Martin Annett. “It was amazingly complicated with all the planning, dummies, cameras, instrumentation and collaborators, but it went off without any major hitches.”
So, how did it do? Well, like with most things, the chopper fared better than the crash-test dummies inside. “The fuselage appeared to survive better than some of the occupants,” Kathy Barnstorff at NASA wrote. We’re quite good at designing and building sturdy machines, but our bodies are as mushy as ever.
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