More on the chicken gun

Hi-- Back around the time the 747 was about to be introduced, Newsweek had a cover story on it, with this nearly unforgettable sentence (which is why I’m trusting my memory): “Boeing engineers have been firing 4-pound chickens at a mockup of the 747’s windshields [note: not engines], to test their resistance to collisions with high-flying birds.”

If there were “world enough and time,” & I had the IT chops to do so, I’d go back and find the original reference. I do recall the cover title, pretty clearly, as “The 747 Arrives.”




I work at an R&D facility. We do a lot of contract work for the government. One of our labs is call “Impact Physics,” and they test aircraft canopies (amongst other things). They offer a test to customers wherein they shoot a chicken at a canopy. They can either use a real chicken or a “simulated” chicken. Some prefer the latter, as it’s less messy and the projectiles have the same size and density (and thus makes repeated measurements more valid).

While I have not actually witnessed the test, I have seen the refrigerator where they store the chickens. And yep, there are chickens in there.

Was this the one where, to the surprise of designers, in the initial tests all the fired chickens were going completely through the canopy. They got together with the testers, discovered what oversight had been made and then issued a new test protocol that read something to the effect of “Before firing the chickens at the canopy, let the frozen carcass thaw”?

Nevermind, Snopes.

Bzzzt. 1943.

Welcome to the Straight Dope Message Boards, barkter, we’re glad you found us. When you start a thread, it’s helpful to other readers to provide a link to the column in question. Saves searching time and helps keep us on the same page. No biggie, I’ve added it to your first post… and, as I say, welcome.