Outrageous Experiments

Myth Database – Ejecting a Seat Sideways

posted: 01/14/17
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Watch the Sideways Ejection Myth & Scroll For The Breakdown!

MYTH: It's possible to build a non-rocket-powered ejection seat that can fling a passenger out the side of a car, per 2 Fast 2 Furious.


The contestants were split into two teams: Blue and Red. The Blue Team consisted of Martin, Tamara, Jon, Sara and Jason. The Red Team was comprised of Hackett, Brian, Tracy, Ben and Allen.

The Blue Team came up with a plan quickly: They decided to re-hinge the door with electromagnets so that once the button is hit, the magnets deactivate and release the door. For the ejection seat, they would re-engineer the seat rails as a pre-pressurized air cannon poised to blow but held in place with a firing pin. Pulling the pin would send Buster skyrocketing.

The Red Team spent hours debating which hydraulic system they wanted to use. In the end, they settled on Brian's pneumatically powered pistons to eject both the chair and door. They re-hinged the door, attaching the piston, and contained their air pressure in a reservoir. Hitting the button would release the air via large bore valves and eject Buster.

Both teams had four days to build their systems, and there were many tweaks along the way. The Blue Team tested and abandoned a plan to supplement their cannon with air-bags, and the Red Team re-engineered their pneumatic plumbing with standard low pressure fittings and store-bought tanks.

The ultimate test took place at Alameda Runway, with the rule that the cars would need to achieve a speed of 40 mph before the driver attempted to eject Buster. Assisting in the judgment was Formula Drift legend Conrad Grunewald.

The Blue Team went first. Their system was originally designed to run at 100 PSI, but given the concern about lack of power, they decided to up the system pressure to 200. Unfortunately, just closing the trunk was enough to jostle the pin, releasing the pressure and ejecting the seat. The likely reason for the main failure? The pin design. When the pressurized air was added, without the benefit of a reservoir tank and valve, the pin slipped off.

Next up was the Red Team, who was able to get their car up to speed, blow off the door and then eject Buster. So while the Blue Team failed, the Red Team proved that the myth that you can build a sideways facing, subtle, non-rocket powered ejector seat is confirmed.

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