Long before Felix Baumgartner completed his crazy 37-kilometre free fall from the edge of space, the US 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 around 500kph 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 centre. 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 (709kph), 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]