Steel tube fuselages part #2


A while back I wrote a story on the subject of design considerations for risk management in experimental aircraft. It was one of the most popular essays I put together in the 20 months we have been on this site.  If you missed it, you can get a look at it by clicking on this link:


Steel tube fuselages, “Safe” planes and 250mph accidents


Part of the above story is examining the structure of fuel dragsters in accidents, as they are something of an extreme example of steel tube aircraft fuselages. I was searching for something else on You Tube and came across this link,



which is a 500km/hr (300mph) accident in an Australian top fuel dragster. Total damage to the driver was a burned thumb. You may not be planning on having that kind of an accident, but it is visual proof of the value of simple concepts like steel tube fuselages and perhaps the idea of flying in a surplus Nomex jumpsuit or at least not flying in shorts and sandels.

On the way back from CC#26, Grace and I stopped by the giant Summit Racing warehouse in Georgia, exit 216 on I-75, (They are open 7 days a week 9am to 9pm). As I walked in I was surprised to see a restored version of Don Garlits’s “Swamp Rat 13” (the car blown in half in our original story) on display hanging from the ceiling. Hundreds of people a day go through that store, but I doubt that many of them know the significant history of the car or the role it played in the evolution of motor sports.  People drift through racing, aviation, and many other serious human pursuits with little appreciation of the depth of experience precedes, and is still available to them. I find everything a far richer experience when I have some understanding of those who pioneered their arena at a very high level of intensity.

Above, Don Garlits in command of Swap Rat 13. A very different era; Open face helmets and a 2,500 hp hemi in your lap.

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