This sucks - Jessi Combs Killed chasing land speed record

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by Flying_Nun, Aug 28, 2019.

  1. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    Because you know the risks, you can work to mitigate them.
    Unless you know the risk mitigation’s involved, I don’t think you have any particular qualification to make that statement, so I’ll take it as you probably intended it...your opinion, which is not intended to change the way others think about setting land speed records.
    Odds can be offset. I’m sure Jessi Combs had the odds offset to her satisfaction, much like you probably will if and when you fly the H1 replica.
     
  2. jbarrass

    jbarrass Line Up and Wait

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    To Quote the Great Philosopher Jimmy Buffett -- "I'd rather die while I'm living than live while I'm dead".

    Life is a gamble. Enjoy it while you can.

    RIP Jessi.
     
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  3. Lowflynjack

    Lowflynjack En-Route

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    You mitigate some risks, but you can't eliminate them. Nascar took away a lot of risks after they lost a superstar, but there is still risk there. Going fast adds risk.

    Of course I'm making assumptions and no, I'm not qualified. I can safely assume she knew the risks of going over 400 mph on the ground is greater than the normal person takes at any time in their life. I don't think that's stretching things. You know if something goes wrong at that speed, it's going to go wrong in a hurry. Same as if you ride a motorcycle. You know your odds go down in a crash vs. riding in a car. Maybe 'expect to die' is a little tough, but I think you know the risk is there.
     
  4. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    I’m betting she knew the risks better than most people know the risks of sitting in an aluminum can at 41,000 ft.
     
  5. Lowflynjack

    Lowflynjack En-Route

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    Agree. She knew the risks and she chose to take them. Even in her boyfriend's statement, he acknowledges she knew it might not end well.

    "I’m not ok, but she is right here keeping my going-I made her a promise that if this didn’t go well that I would make sure and do good with it, please help me with that." - Terry Madden
     
  6. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    She knew the risk, she took the risk. RIP
     
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  7. Bacho

    Bacho Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I met Jessi at King of the Hammers in 2009. She was a great person and truly nice to anyone. She was the real deal.
     
  8. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Comparing what she did to GA flying is absurd. She was in an F-104 that was modified in ways that it was never intended. There’s far greater risk there than typical GA flying.
     
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  9. SoCal RV Flyer

    SoCal RV Flyer En-Route

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    RIP, Jessi. We lost Kitty O'Neil less than a year ago...holder of the absolute speed record for women, an average of 512.7 mph, set in 1976. The record still stands, and was set on the same dry lakebed where Jessi perished.

    Jessi was indeed the fastest woman on four wheels, as Kitty's rocket car was trike gear. No taildragger for her! ;)
     
  10. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot Ejection Handle Pulled

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    What I find most annoying is people saying she was in a rocket powered car.
     
  11. IK04

    IK04 Pattern Altitude

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    Damn. I always thought of her as the ideal little sister. That girl could build anything. R.I.P.
     
  12. EppyGA

    EppyGA Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Tomorrow is not promised to anyone. A friend got up Saturday, sometime during the day he fell and suffered a head trauma. Hospital, surgeries, passed away Tuesday morning. You never know.

    I've never been one to worry about what it is I’m doing. Two stints racing and, of course, death defying flying. Enjoy life.
     
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  13. 3393RP

    3393RP En-Route

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    It was also a much greater risk than most LSR streamliners present. I crewed on a AA/FS that held Southern California Timing Association and Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile world records at Bonneville in 2010, both whose speeds were over 400 MPH, and two more SCTA class records near 400 MPH, and therefore have some knowledge and experience applicable to the subject.

    The media is reporting the vehicle's parachute system failed, and the car was destroyed when it ran off the dry lake bed into terrain.

    One can easily imagine the forces involved in a crash at speeds near 400 MPH, and an aircraft fuselage is not built to absorb that damage. The remains of the vehicle were almost certainly nothing more than bits of fragmented aluminum and a battered J-79.

    I believe the main reason the runs were conducted at the Alvord dry lake bed in Oregon was because the vehicle did not meet safety standards of the Southern California Timing Association, and therefore would not be allowed to run at Bonneville or El Mirage. The SCTA conducts scheduled racing events at both venues, and SCTA safety regulations govern what vehicles are allowed to participate.

    The SCTA safety standards require robust construction around the cockpit, specifying roll bar material, thickness, and placement. Other rules dictate how the running gear, drivetrain, and safety systems are to be built. SCTA inspectors have positive safety bias in evaluating the vehicles, and if they don't approve the manner of construction, the vehicle doesn't run. The F-104 fuselage structure itself precluded the installation of a primary roll cage to protect the driver.

    The Instagram post below shows a photo of the North American Eagle and several areas of deficiency.

    One issue of particular interest is that the parachute main lanyard attachment points are in the airstream, susceptible to damage from achieved 400+ MPH and planned Mach 1 wind loads and race course debris. The inline front wheels throw material from the dry lakebed course directly at the parachute main lanyards, so you can easily imagine what I'm saying.

    The primary lanyards of the parachutes are also anchored below the vehicle center of mass. This is another safety violation. Upon deployment, the parachutes will impart a strong lifting force, destabilizing the vehicle at close to its maximum speed.

    From the attachment points on the fuselage, the main lanyards of the parachutes were routed between the lid and body of the parachute tubes. The lid was unlatched via a driver operated cable mechanism, and a large spring between the lid and parachute was propelled into the slipstream, pulling out the parachute.

    The buffeting of air at the back of the car would have caused violent whipping of the exposed lanyards at speed. Did their routing under the lid provide a point for substantial fraying damage to occur, resulting in failure of the lanyards upon opening the parachutes?

    Other issues with the modified F-104 fuselage of the North American Eagle would not have passed SCTA inspection, the biggest one being the overall vehicle itself. The driver protection provided by the fuselage is completely deficient because it does not have a rollover and crash structure. The cockpit retains the original configuration, including the ejection seat (which I assume was inoperative).

    Was proper engineering scrutiny performed on the axle support struts and fuselage attachment point reinforcements? There aren't redundant load paths for the strut. Alternate load paths on critical vehicle structure are a SCTA safety requirement.

    The air deflectors mounted on the axle for downforce place huge loads on it at speed, and based on the size of the axle system, I wonder if the air loads have been calculated and accounted for. I doubt the rear axle, and particularly its support strut arrangement, would pass an SCTA inspection.

    I noticed the parachute system defects immediately when I saw this Instragram post and photo on Tuesday night. The danger of exposing the system's attachment points and primary lanyards to the airstream and their improper mounting points should have been obvious to the designers, engineers, and constructors of the vehicle.

    From an overall perspective, the use of an airplane fuselage for a land speed record vehicle was, IMO, improper, because it could not be successfully modified to conform with cardinal safety requirements.

    While the death of Jessi Combs is tragic, it also illustrates the burden of responsibility on designers, engineers, and constructors that build vehicles which operate at the knife edge. There is no margin for error.

    https://mobile.twitter.com/TheJessiCombs/status/1165400181350776838

    .

    This is the Flashpoint LSR streamliner, which crashed while traveling 427 MPH in September 2018. I included this photo to illustrate the strength of a conventional streamliner's construction, and that surviving a 400+ MPH crash is possible. The complete destruction of the North American Eagle in a lower speed crash shows that converting an aircraft for LSR attempts is significantly more dangerous than utilizing proven technology.

    .

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2019
  14. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Well said. I don’t have any problems with her decision making but I do wonder if she really understood the risks involved. Also wonder about the engineering background of those involved in the project. At any rate, the risk involved was way off the scale of any typical GA flying. No comparison.

    I think the patch she wore sums it up. An Edwards AFTC patch that states Ad Inexplorata or “towards the unexplored.”
     
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  15. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Good write up, thank you.

    After looking at pictures of the car (before the crash) I am inclined to agree with you. That thing was nothing but a jet aircraft minus the wings. Almost no driver protection, very few safety features in the cockpit that I could see. I didn't see everything, but I saw enough. And was that the aircraft ejection seat being used.?? Was it operational.??

    In my less than stellar racing career, there were cars I stayed away from because I would not feel safe in that car in a racing environment. I would have walked from this one unless many modifications were made starting with the drivers area first.

    Open face helmets are only good for having your picture taken, or protecting the top of the head from bird bombs.
     
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  16. 3393RP

    3393RP En-Route

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    Based on what I've been able to find online, the engineering on the NAE was similar to that of the Raptor experimental aircraft, done by the TLAR method.

    The Flashpoint streamliner chassis is very similar to the vehicle I crewed on. The triple roll bar and surrounding cockpit structure is very strong, and in the photo, you can see it was completely intact after the 400+ MPH crash. The structure of the F-104 fuselage was like a paper towel roll tube by comparison.
     
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  17. Katamarino

    Katamarino Cleared for Takeoff

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    Why are there separate land speed records for women and men? It's not like it's the 100m sprint.
     
  18. Salty

    Salty Ejection Handle Pulled PoA Supporter

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    Great question. An even better question is why are there separate records for anything now that you can decide what gender you are and biology has nothing to do with it?
     
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  19. Cooter

    Cooter Ejection Handle Pulled

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    You are so not woke.
     
  20. Salty

    Salty Ejection Handle Pulled PoA Supporter

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    I'm too woke! I am to woke!

    Something like that.
     
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  21. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips En-Route

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    Of course going to a neuro-trauma unit is gonna show a lot of people with that sort of injury. Go to a burn unit, and you'll see a bunch of people with burns. And "reckless" is different from "calculated risk".
     
  22. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    When I look at a very wrecked race car, the first thing I look at is to see how well the driver compartment held up. If the outer body is taken off a race car, the driver protection comes into view. Take the skin off the NAE and all you have is the driver as the first line of defense sitting in a seat not designed for the type of vehicle this was supposed to be.

    TLAR method, I am familiar with that term.

    The more I learn about the NAE, the sadder and madder I get.

    Someone with driver safety knowledge should have looked at this and said no.
     
  23. gkainz

    gkainz Final Approach

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    Just watched an episode of Overhaulin’ this morning and Jessi was in it.
    RIP, Jessi.
     
  24. 3393RP

    3393RP En-Route

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    "That looks about right" was definitely a big part of the build.
     
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