This week, we have facts about the first supersonic bear. Forty years ago, a bear named Yogi was launched from a supersonic plane to test the effects of high-speed stress.
CURWOOD: Welcome back to Living on Earth. I'm Steve Curwood.
[MUSIC: John Williams, "Lost in Space," TELEVISION'S GREATEST HITS (TVT - 1986)]
CURWOOD: On March 21, 1962, it wasn't raining cats and dogs, but a bear did fall from the sky. Thirty-five thousand feet above Edwards Air Force Base, a California bear named Yogi became the first living animal ejected from an aircraft flying at supersonic speeds. When Yogi was launched into aviation history, the B-58 bomber was traveling at 870 miles per hour, faster than the speed of sound. Seven minutes and 49 seconds later, the bear parachuted to the ground without a scratch. The Air Force was testing a new escape capsule designed to protect crewmembers who have to bail out of airplanes at high speeds. The researchers picked the bear for the test because a bear weights about as much as a human. At high altitudes and speeds, wind and extreme tumbling could make ejection dangerous. So scientists strapped Yogi into a pressurized capsule with oxygen and shock absorbers to cushion the landing. For the record, Yogi wasn't the only bear to break the sound barrier. About two weeks after his historic jump, Yogi was one-upped by a 125-pound bruin named Big John. The plane carrying Big John was flying at an altitude of 45,000 feet at more than 1,000 miles per hour when Big John punched out. Ten minutes later, he too landed safely. Both bears were sedated for their supersonic trips and snoozed through their 15 minutes of fame. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.
Living on Earth wants to hear from you!
P.O. Box 990007
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Newsletter [Click here]
Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.
Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.
Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion
The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.
Energy Foundation: Serving the public interest by helping to build a strong, clean energy economy.
Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.
Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth