We've all seen footage of crash-tested cars. Somehow the test operators drive the vehicle into a cement wall with dummies inside to show how durable the car is — or isn't. No matter how creepy or violent those images are, it's common knowledge that those tests happen all the time when it comes to automobiles. But it's likely that you never spend much time thinking about whether such tests are conducted among airplanes — and the answer is yes, they are.
Footage has recently resurfaced from a NASA project with the Federal Aviation Administration to crash test a Boeing 720 into the California desert back in 1984.
A new additive was going to be put into the fuel planes which use, which professionals hoped could reduce the chance of fires in future plane crashes.
The only way to confirm the hypothesis IRL was to add the new fuel additive and crash a plane with a remote pilot — then watch to see if it caught fire.
Well, it did catch fire. It caught fire big time: According to a recent Daily Mail report, the idea had been for the plane to crash land with its wings level in the center of the runway, allowing the fuselage to remain intact as the wings were sliced away. But the left wing dropped, causing a chain of events that destroyed an engine and caused the massive fuel leak.
That's what caused the fire. The flames engulfed the whole plane and it took over an hour to extinguish.
Nevertheless, the test resulted in tons of valuable safety data.
So these rather terrifying images— and the video below — indeed were all to the public good. Thanks, NASA.
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