Plane crash test that could have saved lives

Discussion in 'General Conversation' started by olefin, Dec 7, 2006.

  1. olefin

    olefin New Member

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    While back Phil made a post about a large remote controlled model airplane and it made me think of something that happen in 1984.

    Had the crash test been successful it could have saved hundreds or thousands of lives worldwide from airplane crashes. Some of you may have seen the test on TV in 1984.

    In 1984 my job was in a Styrene Monomer plant. A little about Styrene: It's a colorless, flammable liquid with a very sweet odor and listed as a hazardous chemical. It's used to make rubber, resins, polyesters and numinous polystyrene plastics. Boat manufactures use styrene as a resin.

    The company I worked for was involved in a joint venture with another company to produce Anti-misting Kerosene (AMK). Basically, turn jet fuel to jelly, this would reduce the fire hazard during a plane crash. Although jet fuel burns reluctantly in liquid form, it's highly flammable as a mist of tiny droplets. Special pumps would break up the jelly like fuel so the misting process could take place inside the planes turbines combustion chambers. NASA, FAA, companies research and development lab test showed that the AMK could be a success.

    One of the ingredients would be styrene made in our plant. A Vice President (my boss) from the company was invited to attended the test and later returned with hours of video that wasn't shown to the public. The test was shown on TV and maybe some of you remember.

    To test the flammability of the AMK in a crash situation NASA and FAA set up a crash test. Using a remotely controlled, heavily instrumented, four-engine Boeing 720B, fully load with anti-misting fuel. The test was in California's Mojave desert. The plane contained fire proof cameras, over 50 simulated passengers wired with test instruments. It was piloted by NASA's top pilot.

    To make sure the wings would be ruptured and fuel spilled, the experimenters positioned eight railroad rails in vertical position, one end buried in concrete. The rails were position along the crash site to rip open the wings fuel tanks.

    But on impact the pilot didn't set the plane down exactly as planned, the rails struck one engine and it exploded. This caused hundreds of gallons of fuel from the fuel pumps to be sprayed on the hot engine resulting in a major fire.

    The test was a deemed a failure although some said it was due to the way the test was conducted. The videos plainly shows there was no fire until the engine stuck the steel rail.

    We were all very disappointed. Especially since in 1984 the plant was losing money and facing a possible shutdown.

    Back then I thought sure that within a few years someone would come up with Anti-misting kerosene that would work. Maybe someday??

    Tail camera video shows when the engine exploded.
    Other videos of the crash on the right.
     
  2. FS Driver

    FS Driver New Member

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    i know it would take a lot of hours and testing but all the scrap planes ive seen in fields just gathering dust looks like they could either get some of these smaller planes or make smaller versions of the prototype they would
    like to test and make numerous , or as many test units necessary to get
    the satisfactory results before putting another full sized plane into action to test .
    that wasan incredably large plume of fire in the clip .
    i checked out the other clips to the right of that one too. amazeing .
    so there was a pilot in that plane or was it remotely flown???
    he'd have to be a very brave person to actually fly that test run !!!
    thanks for shareing dayton
     

  3. Phil Washburn

    Phil Washburn New Member

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    Dayton, i think the local (OETA) educational channel showed that very test several years ago. i remember very well seeing a show that sounds exactly like what you are describing.

    thanks for jarring my memory. lots of good ideas have gone down the tube because of knee-jerk reactions
     
  4. kat in the hat

    kat in the hat New Member

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    I have always heard that when a plane goes down, the airline wants the passengers to die. Reason being, it is cheaper to pay the families of the deceased one time than to pay for peoples injuries for the rest of their lives. Mythbusters had an episode on this and proved that the crash position that they want you in in the event of a crash is the most dangerous position to be in. When the plane crashes your neck will snap. They have little interest in saving your life. I don't know if that applies here or not, but it makes me wonder.
     
  5. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

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    There are alot of interesting facts surrounding the SR-71 Blackbird.
    One being it leaked fuel like a rusty tin can sitting on the tarmac. It has to get in the air shortly after fueling so it will stop leaking or so I've been told.

    If I remember correctly the fuel gels because of (or its designed to) the intense heat on the plane surfaces.
     
  6. Willy

    Willy New Member

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    On a SR71 the material the body is made out of is titanium and it is a neat material as it withstands high heat and has a habit of shrinking and stretching repeatedly without breaking. As the plane gets higher and faster the skin gets red hot and basically seals up and no fuel leaks. Once on the ground after it cools off it shrinks and it will leak bad. When one lands you have to be trained on how to work around one or you can get hurt from heat buildup on the skin.The fasteners are a bear to change as they have been heat treated and hardened repeatedly over time.
     
  7. catman529

    catman529 New Member

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    Maybe someday there will be an anti-misting kerosene.
    -
    I was wondering if Styrene is similar to ethylene at all. Would you know that? I don't know much about it - what I know about is polyethylene - HDPE and LDPE for trash bags and drop cloths. You mentioned polystyrene and plastics - I thought it might be similar.
     
  8. Wil

    Wil New Member

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    i've seen a lot of stuff in my life, but..that...was.......AWSOME holy crap that was cool!
     
  9. olefin

    olefin New Member

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    Jon, Interesting that you are familiar with polyethylene.
    Ethylene is made from propane and ethane in an Olefin plant = where where I spent most of my working life. The company also had polyethylene plant that produced HDPE and LDPE pellets that were shipped all over the USA and Canada for production of medical grade plastic, automobile grade plastic, bottles, electrical wire insulation, etc. and a grade that was used for trash bags and similar products. There is numerous grades of polyethylene.
    Styrene is made from ethylene and benzene.


    Darryl, it was flown by a top NASA pilot by remote control. That must have been a thrill for him or I would have thought it was.
     
  10. catman529

    catman529 New Member

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    Thanks a lot, that totally answered my question. Here's a link to one of my posts and you'll see why I was interested.

    http://www.catfish1.com/forums/showthread.php?t=34011