Science: Mach I at Zero

The Air Force, with supersonic craft already in the air, has not lost its taste or its need for high-speed derring-do. At Holloman Air Force Base, N.Mex., is a menacing contraption: a rocket-propelled sled that travels on railroad rails at 750 m.p.h. As an additional attraction, the passenger sits in a chair that tumbles over and over 180 times a minute. The rig is designed to simulate the air pressure and violent rotation encountered by a pilot who bails out of a fighter plane at the peak of its speed.

So far, only dummies have ridden in this disquieting sled, which...

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