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Pilot Ejects from F-15 at Supersonic Speed

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April 26, 2017
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People seek out high-speed thrills all the time for an adrenaline rush, from roller coasters to skydiving. But those typically come with a reasonable expectation that you won't die in the process.Even while plummeting toward the earth, terminal velocity is only about 120 miles-per-hour. What happens to the human body when it hits over 800 miles-per-hour?Brian Udell is one of the only people to have experienced what supersonic speed feels like to the human body outside of an airplane. He managed to survive the experience, but only just.During a combat training mission, Udell was forced to eject out of his F-15 along with his navigator, Captain Dennis White. But as they were approaching supersonic speeds, Udell realized that he could hear wind rushing over the canopy - he was losing control of the plane.Within 5 seconds, they went from 17,000 feet to 10,000 feet, with no way of telling where the horizon was, or even if they were upside down. Brian made the call to eject, and they were forced to hit the airstream at supersonic speeds. They ejected at just 3,000 feet, and Udell's parachute didn't even open until they were 1,000 feet above the open water.The wind pressure was enough to begin tearing him apart. His helmet flew off, the capillaries in his face all burst, his legs snapped and were rendered useless, and one of his arms was dislocated, all in a split second. By the time he hit the open water, he was sure that he wouldn't make it.Udell managed to climb into the life raft attached to his seat after some significant effort and was found a few hours later by search and rescue planes, cold, injured, but still alive. His partner, unfortunately, was killed on ejection.


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