Video: Ejecting at 800 mph

Find out what it’s like to exit an airplane past the speed of sound.

We all know what it’s like to stick a hand out of a window at 65 mph. Multiply that feeling by 144 (the pressure varies with the square of the speed), all over your body, and you’ll get the sense of what it’s like to exit an airplane past the speed of sound. It seems impossible to survive, but in this harrowing video Captain Brian (Noodle) Udell explains his experience of ejecting from an F-15 at 800 mph at night and splashing down in the ocean. Udell and his copilot were flying a combat training mission in 1995 when the canopy failed and Udell lost control of the airplane. Losing thousands of feet per second, Udell and his partner ejected at about 3,000 feet as the airplane plummeted straight toward the Earth.

Unfortunately the copilot perished, but Udell narrowly survived the accident with serious injuries to his legs, ribs, arm and face as the force of the air he sped through pulled his helmet and mask right off his head. This video is a dramatic reenactment of the event with a touching narration by Udell of his near-death experience.