Unexpectedly Intriguing!
December 8, 2005

One of the great things about the Internet is that you can always set an urban legend in motion, or, in today's case, relaunch an old one. Literally. Here's one of Political Calculations' personal favorites: the story of the Chicken Cannon:

In an issue of Meat & Poultry magazine, editors quoted from "Feathers," the publication of the California Poultry Industry Federation, telling the following story:

The US Federal Aviation Administration has a unique device for testing the strength of windshields on airplanes. The device is a gun that launches a dead chicken at a plane's windshield at approximately the speed the plane flies.

The theory is that if the windshield doesn't crack from the carcass impact, it'll survive a real collision with a bird during flight.

It seems the British were very interested in this and wanted to test a windshield on a brand new, speedy locomotive they're developing.

They borrowed FAA's chicken launcher, loaded the chicken and fired.

The ballistic chicken shattered the windshield, broke the engineer's chair and embedded itself in the back wall of the engine's cab. The British were stunned and asked the FAA to recheck the test to see if everything was done correctly.

The FAA reviewed the test thoroughly and had one recommendation:

"Use a thawed chicken."

Of course, half the fun of urban legends is the debunking of them. Before passing it along, be sure to read the official Snopes.com entry for the Chicken Cannon as well as this debunking from the Rooster Booster!


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