The deliberate crash of a Boeing 727 will be the topic of a new Discovery channel program, Curiosity, which airs this Sunday night (9 p.m. Eastern, 8 p.m. Central time). No airplane of this size has been crashed for science since 1984, according to the channel's website, when NASA and the FAA crashed a Boeing 720 to see what would happen. Discovery strapped several crash-test dummies into the fuselage, filled it with cameras, and enlisted a panel of experts to analyze the results. A single pilot flew the jet until it was on course for its final destination, above a Mexican desert, then parachuted out. The 727 was flown into the ground at a shallow angle by a remote operator in a chase plane, breaking up on impact.
The experiment investigates what really happens as an airplane goes down and explores how to increase your odds of survival. The show "puts you in the passenger's seat during the heart-stopping moment of impact," according to the Discovery website. "Alongside an international team of experts, you will get to experience this terrifying plunge through our footage from inside the plane to understand the significance of every bump, twist and turn of the aircraft and what that might mean for you if you were strapped in next to our dummies." The Discovery channel trailer for the show is posted online, and you can also take a quiz there to test your knowledge of air-travel safety. The NASA/FAA crash experiment resulted in a fiery wreck (MPG video file).