As part of research into how to make helicopters safer, NASA engineers recently dropped an MD-500 helicopter from a height of 35 feet to study how it crashed into the ground.
The crash test was a 'smashing success,' NASA wrote in an announcement titled 'Chopper Crash Test a Smash Hit.' (Don't ever say scientists don't have a sense of humor)
NASA describes the chopper crash:
Three, two, one, release," said the technician on the loudspeaker at the Landing and Impact Research Facility. With that countdown the helicopter smacked hard into the concrete. Its skid gear collapsed, its windscreen cracked open and its occupants lurched forward violently, suffering potentially spine-crushing injuries according to internal data recorders.
The helicopter was dropped in such a way as to simulate a 'relatively severe but survivable helicopter crash' and was the second of its kind to be dropped.
The first test took place in December 2009 under similar conditions, and involved an MD-500 that had been outfitted with an expandable honeycomb cushion, or a 'deployable energy absorber.'
The more recent simulation involved a normal helicopter, without the new technology, as engineers 'wanted to determine exactly how efficient the deployable energy absorber had been in the earlier test and how much it might help reduce occupant injuries,' NASA explains.
Check out the simulated helicopter crash below.