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There Is No Speed Limit On The Rocket-Powered Railroad At Holloman Air Force Base

These Two Videos Show Both The Deadly Serious Side Of Sled Testing And the Side-Splitting Humor Of Tough Sledding

Official US Air Force Photograph

This film about the Holloman High Speed Test Track (HHSTT) was produced during the 1960s and portrays not only the exacting engineering standards to which the track was engineered but also several of the test programs that utilized the facility at Holloman Air Force Base (AFB) in New Mexico. The HHSTT is located next to the White Sands Missile Range and is operated by the 846th Test Squadron of the 96th Test Group of the 96th Test Wing headquartered at Eglin AFB in Florida today. Thanks to YouTuber DOCUMENTARY TUBE for uploading this informative look at the fastest railroad on earth. The second video below is worth your time as well!

When originally built in 1949 the HHSTT was 3,350 feet long.  Air Force Colonel John P. Stapp was the last human test subject to ride the HHSST’s rocket-powered sleds when he became the fastest man on earth during December of 1954. Since then the track has been lengthened several times and presently measures about 9.6 miles in length. More than 13,000 tests have been conducted at the site. The world land speed record for rocket powered sleds, set at HHSST in 20003, currently stands at Mach 8.6 ( ! ) That’s 9,465 feet per second to you and me.

Official US Air Force Photograph

Here’s a different look at the kind of testing done at HHSST and a few other locations. Titled “Tough Sledding”, this farcical film is a sarcastic look at the ejection seat and human factors testing being conducted using rocket-powered sleds during the late 1950s. While this testing was deadly serious business, as is often the case under such circumstances, a few “artists” (evidently associated with Northrop) helped keep things in perspective with this short feature. Just try not to laugh! Thanks to YouTuber PeriscopeFilm for uploading this gem.

Official US Air Force Photograph

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Written by Bill Walton

Bill Walton

Bill Walton is a life-long aviation enthusiast and expert in aircraft recognition. As a teenager Bill helped his engineer father build an award-winning T-18 homebuilt airplane in their Wisconsin basement. Bill is a freelance writer, an avid sailor, engineer, announcer, husband, father, uncle, mentor, coach, and Navy veteran. Bill lives north of Houston TX with his wife and son under the approach path to KDWH runway 17R, which means they get to look up at a lot of airplanes. A very good thing.