Science: A Way Out

As airplanes fly faster & faster, bailing out gets harder & harder. The airstream, pouring past the plane at 500 m.p.h., smacks the would-be "caterpillar" with the force of a padded pile driver. If he survives this blow, he runs the risk of being slammed against the tail surfaces.

The Navy's new two-place jet fighter, the Douglas XF3D-1 Skyknight, has a special "escape chute" to help its crew bail out. When the pilot decides to abandon ship, he pulls a toggle. The seatbacks swing away. A door at the rear of the cockpit opens, exposing...

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