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


Overview -

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.  Read more...


 
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More About Sonic Wind by Craig Ryan
 
 
 
Overview

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.


 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780871406774
  • ISBN-10: 0871406772
  • Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation
  • Publish Date: August 2015
  • Page Count: 432
  • Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.35 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Biography & Autobiography > Scientists - General
Books > Biography & Autobiography > Historical - General
Books > Technology & Engineering > Engineering (General)

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2015-05-25
  • Reviewer: Staff

Adventure writer Ryan (Magnificent Failure) rescues the brilliant, obsessive John Paul Stapp (1911–1999) from obscurity with this lively biography. Stapp made the cover of Time magazine in 1955, thanks to dangerous high-speed experiments in which he used himself as the subject. Unlike the theatrical efforts of daredevils such as Evel Knievel and Super Dave Osborne, Stapp’s feats led to important scientific advances. In 1946, Stapp, an Army Air Corps medical consultant, was assigned to simulate airplane crashes in order to improve the dismal pilot survival rate. The experiment that followed involved accelerating a rocket-propelled sled to high speed before abruptly applying the brakes. Crash dummies shattered, chimpanzees died, and Stapp himself broke bones. But in 1954 he reached 632 mph and stopped in 1.4 seconds, enduring (barely) the equivalent of hitting a brick wall at 120 mph and proving that experts had wildly underrated human endurance. “All you had to do,” Ryan remarks, “was protect and restrain them effectively, and they could take almost anything.” Ryan delivers fine explanations of technical details, byzantine military politics, and Stapp’s bumpy personal life, and though he fails to explain Stapp’s suicidal bravery (superiors wisely forbade planned faster runs), readers will share his admiration for Stapp’s achievements. (Aug.)

 
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