There’s only one thing on the horizon when you’re driving toward Zion National Park from St. George, in southwestern Utah, a formidable mass rising from the flat landscape known as Hurricane Mesa. It is capped by the only private supersonic-capable aircraft ejection test track in the United States, owned and operated by UTC Aerospace Systems. It’s here where LOIS has worked the test track for decades, along with LARD and their grandfather “Hurricane Sam,” who set a world land-speed record of 1,800 miles per hour at the site. Of course LOIS, LARD, and Sam are anthropomorphic test dummies whose main objective is to simulate human ejections from an aircraft at various speeds and record test data through a series of high-precision sensors.
The ACES 5, which could also see use in the forthcoming T-X trainer jet, uses everything from nets to gyroscopic rockets to carry pilots from a plane that flies 50,000 feet off the ground at near supersonic speeds to the ground with minimal risk.
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The latest addition to the UTC Aerospace Systems family of Advanced Concept Ejection Seats, the ACES 5® incorporates significant safety and cost saving upgrades. Engineers have combined the unparalleled spinal safety performance of the ACES II® ejection seat with next-generation head, neck, and limb protection for all aviators. They have expanded the height and weight capacities for the seat so that the U.S. military can safely eject the broadest range of male and female aviators ever.
Imagine you are piloting a B-2 Spirit a few years from now. Your bomber has experienced some type of catastrophic damage or system failure. You assess the situation—it’s clear that the aircraft is no longer flyable, and you and your co-pilot need to eject. You feel confident because of the trust you have in the ACES 5® ejection seat you are sitting in.
We’re in the business of saving lives. Designing and building safer ejection seats is our calling. Air Forces around the world depend on us, and so do the families of these intrepid airmen. When an aircrew is forced to eject, they, their families, and their countrymen and women trust we did our job perfectly and they are sitting in an ejection seat with the latest advancements and technology available.
As you read this sentence, you are experiencing life at 1 G—gravity is pulling down on you at 32 feet per second squared. If you happen to be flying some aerobatics and executing a 3 G barrel roll right now, things are different. At 3 G’s, you’re feeling triple the pull on every pound of your body and whatever is attached to it. That means a 150-pound airman with 50 pounds of flight gear would experience 600 pounds of force. During an ejection, you would experience at least 8 G’s of force on your body. An additional ejection hazard is wind blast -- the magnitude of which approaches that of a Category 5 hurricane.