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From NASA's Archives: The Crash in the Desert

Jamie Carreiro
February 28, 20202:00 PM UTC (UTC +0)

In late 1984, NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration conducted a dramatic experiment.

A remote-controlled Boeing 720 passenger jet (filled with crash-test dummies) was intentionally crashed in the Mojave Desert. The NASA Ames Research Center, the Langley Research Center, the Dryden Flight Research Center, the FAA, and General Electric all contributed to the planning and preparation for this test.

Watch the explosive result here, captured from multiple angles on high-speed 16mm film. The knowledge gained from this test lead to several key changes in fuel mixtures, cabin equipment, and cockpit technologies.

In this photograph the B-720 is seen during the moments of initial impact.

Dummies in the passenger cabin of the B-720 aircraft.

Moments after impact and just before hitting the wing openers.

A spectacular fireball emanating from the right inboard engine area.

Enveloped in the large fireball with only the aircraft's nose and right wing-tip exposed.

The right wing folding over as the aircraft continues to slide.

Jamie Carreiro
February 28, 20202:00 PM UTC (UTC +0)