From November 1970 through August 1971 an extensive program of static and dynamic air cushion inflation tests utilizing human volunteers was conducted at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, sponsored by the Department of Transportation. Forty-one full cushion deployment static firings were made, with air cushion hardware and seating buck environment designed by General Motors. The static series was followed by 35 dynamic sled firings of human volunteers, beginning at 8.6 g (15.1 mph) and culminating at 21.7 g (31.5 mph).
A major objective of both the static and dynamic test series was to identify changes in air-cushion design found necessary to improve its protective capability for human beings. Because of the severity of cushion deployment, one modification was made following the initial static tests: The orifice diameter size of the bag inlet was reduced from 1.0 to 0.6 in to diminish the rapidity of bag inflation. This modification proved effective in the dynamic series. As far as the human element in the dynamic series is concerned, no severe injuries beyond erythema, abrasion, contusion, and blister were received. As a result of this program, and testing of baboons at Wayne State University, an improved “augmented” GM air cushion is being developed and hopefully will be man-evaluated in the future.