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Col John Stapp Takes a Lot of G's

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Uploaded on Jul 16, 2009

Air Force flight surgeon John Paul Stapp subjected himself to a number of extreme experiments in the late 1940's and early 1950's in order to acquire data on the human body's ability to withstand extreme forces including rapid deceleration, exposure to high speed winds and other hazards associated with jet aircraft.

His most dramatic (and dangerous) tests involved the use of a rocket sled which accelerated Stapp to just bellow the speed of sound before decelerating back to a standstill in a fraction of a second, subjecting Stapp to enormous G-forces. The forward facing configuration (known as "eyeballs out") presents the very real danger of cardiac damage, which could even be fatal. Although Stapp was restrained by a specialized harness, this could not completely eliminate the cardiac danger.

Another very real hazard of such rapid deceleration is retinal detachment, which can cause permanent blindness. In one of Stapp's deceleration experiments, he was left unable to see after the deceleration. Stapp feared that he would be left blind by the event, but the effect turned out to be temporary, as it was caused by bleeding into his interocular fluid.

In his later life, Stapp would become a major promoter of enhanced automotive safety. He chaired the John P Stapp Foundation for Automotive Safety and later worked with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on the development of improved crash test methods.

In 1979 Stapp was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame and in 1991, Stapp was awarded the National Medal of Technology.

Stapp died in 1999 at age 89.

(Despite this video coming from the History Channel, it is actually fairly accurate)

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