Sonic Wind: The Story of John Paul Stapp and How a Renegade Doctor Became the Fastest Man on Earth

Sonic Wind: The Story of John Paul Stapp and How a Renegade Doctor Became the Fastest Man on Earth

by Craig Ryan

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The untold story of an eccentric, scientific visionary whose death-defying research has saved millions of lives.

Sixty years ago, cars and airplanes were still deathtraps waiting to happen. Today, both are safer than ever, thanks in part to one pioneering air force doctor’s research on seatbelts and ejection seats. The exploits of John Paul Stapp (1910–1999) come to thrilling life in this biography of a Renaissance man who was once blasted—faster than a .45 caliber bullet—across the desert in his Sonic Wind rocket sled, only to be slammed to a stop in barely a second. The experiment put him on the cover of Time magazine and allowed his swashbuckling team to gather the data needed to revolutionize automobile and aircraft design. But Stapp didn’t stop there. From the legendary high-altitude balloon tests that ensued to the ferocious battles for car safety legislation, Craig Ryan’s book is as much a history of America’s transition into the Jet Age as it is a biography of the man who got us there safely.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781631490798
Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation
Publication date: 08/10/2015
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
File size: 7 MB

About the Author

Craig Ryan is the author of acclaimed books on extreme adventure and scientific discovery in the stratosphere as well as the coproducer of the documentary film The Angry Sky. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

Part I The Glorious Rebellion Against Dissolution

1 Where Are My Children To-Night? 7

2 The Most Interesting Place 18

3 Colonel Tank and Colonel Gas 33

4 Scum Jobs 40

5 The Citadel of Aeromedical Research 54

Part II The Hot Siberia of the Air Force

6 The Battle of Muroc 73

7 Oscar Eightball and the Curbstone Clinic 83

8 Stapp's First Rides 98

9 Anticipating Strict Compliance 111

10 G-Force Chimps 117

11 Brother, We Are the Goats 136

12 Evicted 145

13 Solo on Lovers Lane 160

14 Waiting for a Tiger to Spring 175

15 Subject Had Considerable Apprehension 185

Part III Above the Armstrong Line

16 The Conference 205

17 Space Scientists in Hollywood 223

18 Space Scientists in Space 232

19 The Most Significant Apparatus 250

20 Kicked Upstairs 264

21 The Survivors Club 274

22 Exit from Valley Forge 289

23 Nazi Doctors and the Never-Ending Road Trip 299

Part IV The Ghosts That Never Happened

24 Washington 313

25 Slugging Away at the Standards 329

26 Who Wants a Resurrection, Anyway? 346

27 Honor and Violation 366

28 The Stapp Years 371

Appendix: How Fast? 377

Notes 379

Interviews 387

List of Illustrations 389

Acknowledgments 391

Index 393

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