Recent accounts of aircraft pilots seeing people strapped to jetpacks at high altitude reminded me of a story told by my flat mate when I lived in Bristol. He was a design engineer working at the aircraft builders in Filton, Bristol in the early 70s. Now known as British Aerospace. Can’t remember what it was called in those days but I digress. Anyway the engineers devised a sort of compressed air powered canon for the purpose of firing 5lb chickens, fortunately for them already dead, at a running aircraft jet engine. To test the engine’s durability upon striking a large bird whilst in flight. The involuntary projectile hitting the engine at around 400 MPH.

The test was somewhat redundant and academic as engineers had already figured out and designed with sufficient safety margins for such real life events. However it is likely a jobsworth needed appeasing somewhere down the line and hence the test.

One such test did though result in the total destruction of a very expensive Rolls Royce Pegasus jet engine.

At the subsequent inquiry into this unfortunate and unexpected result someone thought it appropriate to point out that aircraft flying at 400 mph were unlikely to encounter frozen chickens. Best thaw them first.


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