Revealed: How Americans used drugged BEARS to test ejector seats for fighter pilots during the Cold WarThe U.S. Air Force used Himalayan and American black bears to test the safety of the B-58 Hustler's ejection system
Hustlers were the first aircraft to fly at twice the speed of sound – Mach 2
The bears suffered broken bones but none were killed in the tests
16:19 GMT, 21 December 2012
Live bears were used by the American military to test the safety of the pilot ejection capsule on the world's first supersonic jet bomber, it has emerged.
The B-58 Hustler was created in the 1950s during the height of the cold war.
It was faster than the U.S.S.R jets at the time and was the first ever bomber capable of Mach 2 – the term given to planes flying at twice the speed of sound.
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Trapped: A drugged bear is tightly strapped into the ejection capsule of a B-58 Hustler to test its safety
Take off: The B-58 Hustler – which was the first aircraft to travel at twice the speed of sound – prepares to take off in the U.S. Air Force video
Test dummies: The U.S. Air Force used Himalayan and American black bears to test the aircraft's ejection system which rocketed pilots into the sky before automatically opening into a parachute
But the plane had several issues – including that the crew could not use the emergency ejection system when the plane was flying at Mach 2.
A new ejection was designed so crew could evacuate at any time but the U.S. Air Force wanted to test the safety of the aircraft's ejection system before letting its elite pilots try it out.
A pre-ejection handle yanked the pilot's legs in close before enclosing him in a shell that still allowed rudimentary control of the plane, i09.com reports.
The actual ejection handle then sent the capsule up with a rocket burst and automatically deployed a parachute. The capsule could float and contained survival supplies in the event of a crash.
Spectators: Members of the Air Force watch the ejection capsule descending to the ground on a parachute
A crew member looks in on a bear used to test the ejection system after it lands back on earth
None of the bears used in the experiments died during the test flights but some did suffer broken bones and internal injuries
Live Himalayan and American black bears were sedated and then sent up in the four jet engine aircraft to test the new ejection system. The bears were ejected at various altitudes and speeds in a various conditions to check its safety.
Upon landing, the bears were checked over for any injuries. Some did suffer broken bones, internal injuries and bruising but no bears died in the test flight ejections.
The ejection tests, which saw bears ejected at speeds up to Mach 1.6 at 45,000 feet, and medical checks after the flights can be seen in an Air Force video.
But i09 reports that a white paper by the National Academy of Sciences National Research Council, called Impact Acceleration Stress, states that the bears were euthanised and underwent an autopsy afterwards.
Members of the U.S. Air Force carry the bear out of the aircraft capsule
The bear is put on to a stretcher and carried over to another aircraft to take it back to a U.S. Air Force base
The B-58A Hustlers were only used for around ten years until intercontinental missiles made the need for their use obsolete
VIDEO Some my find distressing. Drugged BEARS used to test ejector seats
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