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Friday, May 09, 2003
Windscreen testing

I blogged recently about the tests being carried out to confirm the cause(s) of the Columbia disaster. This reminded me of what may well be an urban myth. Never mind, it's still an interesting story.

Some years ago, when British Rail was testing its new, high-speed train, they wanted to ensure that the windscreens would be able to stand up to bird strike damage at maximum speed. Accordingly, the engineers borrowed a bird-firing gun to conduct tests.

The engineers followed the instructions to the letter but, time and again, the (dead) chickens shattered the glass, no matter how thick or tough it was made. In desperation, they contacted the people who had lent them the gun.

They too were puzzled - they had never had the slightest problem. They asked the engineers to describe in minute detail how the tests were being carried out. The engineers even went so far as to describe where they bought the chickens and how they loaded them.

‘Oh, we defrost them first,' came the explanation.

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