Long before Felix Baumgartner completed his crazy 24-mile free fall from the edge of space, the Navy was testing how humans react to pushing their bodies beyond normal limits. In 1948 that meant blasting volunteer pilots in the face with winds of above 305 miles per hour to see if they could handle it.


You can see in the video subjects sitting in leather seats in an eight-foot high-speed wind tunnel at Langley Research Center. As the gust picks up strength, it looks like the skin is nearly blown off their faces. The Navy originally wanted to test reactions with speeds of up to Mach 0.65 but they only took it up to Mach 0.58 (441 miles per hour), for fear that anything higher would injure these guinea pigs. Shortly after these experiments, pilots started flying with helmets to protect their necks and heads. And Felix Baumgartner should be glad these guys were blasted in the face before him—they laid the path for his incredible space jump. [Motherboard]