science

Cold War centrifuge that spun thousands of British pilots in G-force training will now go on display


Having put thousands of pilots through high G-force training, a Cold War-era human centrifuge has done its last turn and will go on public display for the first time.

The rapidly-rotating machine could simulate the immense, 9G forces pilots experience when flying supersonic aircraft during combat operations.

In their training, pilot would sit in a replica cockpit — complete with emergency sick bags — located at the end of the 60 feet (18 metres) long rotating arm, which span them around 30 times every minute.

Located in Farnborough, Hampshire, the centrifuge appeared in the comedy film ‘Spies Like Us’ and a ‘Top Gear‘ episode where Jeremy Clarkson reached a paltry 3G.

Scroll down for video

Having put thousands of pilots through high G-force training, a Cold War-era human centrifuge has done its last turn and will go on public display for the first time

Having put thousands of pilots through high G-force training, a Cold War-era human centrifuge has done its last turn and will go on public display for the first time

WHAT ARE G-FORCES? 

G-forces are felt when an object or person accelerates rapidly, such as in a race car or fighter jet

1G is the equivalent of the force that the Earth exerts on you while standing still on the ground.

Above 5G and pilots are at risk of blacking out if the forces cause blood to drain out of their heads.

Forces of over 100G would be enough to violently squash internal organs and crush bones.

A stomach-churning 122,133 tests in total were performed on the Farnborough centrifuge, which operated from 1955 until its decommissioning back in March 2019.

The contraption, owned by Raintree Developments Ltd, is Grade II listed and is going on display as part of a two-year exhibition being organised by the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST), who work to preserve Royal Air Force heritage. 

The largest G-force normal people experience comes briefly during fast roller-coaster rides — which can reach up to 4G — but modern fighter jets can pull up to 9G for many seconds at a time.

As you are exposed to higher G-forces, you feel much heavier — the effect can even cause a loss of vision or consciousness.

Such a fate nearly befell Roger Moore’s James Bond, who narrowly escaped an assassination attempt when trapped in a similar human centrifuge in the 1979 film Moonraker.

The skin on your face can also sag, making you temporarily appear much older.

The cockpit was fitted with sick bags for use if the rotation proved too much for a participant.

Also, the centre of the arm had room for a Royal Air Force medical observer to watch the pilot, in case they should indeed lose consciousness.

Former research scientist and FAST volunteer Sue Adcock, 60, (pictured) did almost 600 runs on the device as part of research into G-forces

Former research scientist and FAST volunteer Sue Adcock, 60, (pictured) did almost 600 runs on the device as part of research into G-forces

As you are exposed to higher G-forces, you feel much heavier — the effect can even cause a loss of vision or consciousness. The skin on your face can also sag (as pictured), making you temporarily appear much older

As you are exposed to higher G-forces, you feel much heavier — the effect can even cause a loss of vision or consciousness. The skin on your face can also sag (as pictured), making you temporarily appear much older

The centre of the arm had room for a Royal Air Force medical observer to watch the pilot, in case they should indeed lose consciousness, at which point the machine would be stopped

The centre of the arm had room for a Royal Air Force medical observer to watch the pilot, in case they should indeed lose consciousness, at which point the machine would be stopped

Former research scientist and FAST volunteer Sue Adcock, 60, did almost 600 runs on the device as part of research into G-forces.

‘The human body is not designed to operate at high levels of G-force and a person can lose vision and even consciousness,’ said Mrs Adcock.

‘If you are flying an aircraft when it happens, you will crash the plane and be killed.’

Exposure to high G-forces can even cause a loss of consciousness. Such a fate nearly befell Roger Moore's James Bond, who narrowly escaped an assassination attempt when trapped in a similar human centrifuge in the 1979 film Moonraker, pictured

Exposure to high G-forces can even cause a loss of consciousness. Such a fate nearly befell Roger Moore’s James Bond, who narrowly escaped an assassination attempt when trapped in a similar human centrifuge in the 1979 film Moonraker, pictured

Located in Farnborough, Hampshire, the centrifuge appeared in the comedy film 'Spies Like Us' and a 'Top Gear' episode where Jeremy Clarkson reached a paltry 3G, pictured

Located in Farnborough, Hampshire, the centrifuge appeared in the comedy film ‘Spies Like Us’ and a ‘Top Gear’ episode where Jeremy Clarkson reached a paltry 3G, pictured

The cockpit was fitted with sick bags for use if the rotation proved too much for a participant. Above 5G and pilots are at risk of blacking out if the forces cause blood to drain out of their heads

The cockpit was fitted with sick bags for use if the rotation proved too much for a participant. Above 5G and pilots are at risk of blacking out if the forces cause blood to drain out of their heads

‘As a result, it was so important to understand the effects of G, what caused it and counter measures for the pilot to protect themselves from it.

‘This machine was built to help us achieve that and remarkably it has barely changed since the 1950s — a truly impressive example of engineering,’

‘I remember how nervous I was before my first run — I was sure I would be sick — but I found it so exhilarating, it was really great fun!’

‘This is a unique, fantastic creation and we want to make sure it is preserved for future generations.’

A stomach-churning 122,133 tests were performed on the Farnborough centrifuge, which operated from 1955 until its decommissioning in March 2019

A stomach-churning 122,133 tests were performed on the Farnborough centrifuge, which operated from 1955 until its decommissioning in March 2019

The largest G-force normal people experience comes briefly during fast roller-coaster rides — which can reach up to 4G — but modern fighter jets can pull up to 9G for many seconds at a time

The largest G-force normal people experience comes briefly during fast roller-coaster rides — which can reach up to 4G — but modern fighter jets can pull up to 9G for many seconds at a time

'It was so important to understand the effects of G, what caused it and counter measures for the pilot to protect themselves from it. This machine was built to help us achieve that and remarkably it has barely changed since the 1950s,' said Sue Adcock

‘It was so important to understand the effects of G, what caused it and counter measures for the pilot to protect themselves from it. This machine was built to help us achieve that and remarkably it has barely changed since the 1950s,’ said Sue Adcock

The contraption, owned by Raintree Developments Ltd, is Grade II listed and pictured here during construction in the 1950s

The contraption, owned by Raintree Developments Ltd, is Grade II listed and pictured here during construction in the 1950s

The centrifuge is going on display as part of a two-year exhibition being organised by the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST), who work to preserve Royal Air Force heritage

The centrifuge is going on display as part of a two-year exhibition being organised by the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST), who work to preserve Royal Air Force heritage

The centrifuge is going on display as part of a two-year exhibition being organised by the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST), who work to preserve Royal Air Force heritage

 The centrifuge is going on display as part of a two-year exhibition being organised by the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST), who work to preserve Royal Air Force heritage



READ SOURCE

Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.  Learn more