If you've traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico (or you're just a science lover), one of the most well known science labs in the United States is the Sandia National Laboratories. Since 1949, the lab has become of the biggest research labs in the fields of nuclear testing, space travel and aviation safety. And that last point brings us to what people are familiar with, when talking about Sandia National Labs... they took an unmanned F4 Phantom military jet, and slammed it into a wall at high speed.

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Why did Sandia National Laboratories crash an F4 military jet?

Well the reason why was actually quite simple; they wanted to test the strength of concrete buildings in the event of...well a plane crashing into a building. They wanted to make sure that if such an event occurred, the building would be left standing.

So on April 19, 1988, they took a F4 Phantom jet, placed it on a rocket sled, and sent it FLYING (no pun intended) into a concrete wall (over 3.5 meters thick). And what happened is possibly one of the most incredible pieces of crash testing you will ever see.

Sandia National Laboratories
Sandia National Laboratories
Sandia National Laboratories
Sandia National Laboratories
Sandia National Laboratories
Sandia National Laboratories

The test is even MORE impressive in video form...

As you can tell, the concrete wall stood firm. The plane...not so much. And if THOSE angles weren't amazing enough, check out the CLOSE UPs.

Other crash tests that were done at Sandia National Labs

While this, no doubt, is the most famous crash test footage from Sandia Labs, another piece of historic footage was this 1978 film of testing nuclear containers. They wanted to make sure that the containers, that normally contain nuclear waste, were sturdy enough to withstand extreme force. So...what's more forceful that a jet powered train running right into it??

Sandia Labs are still very active in their crash testing today; they did a ballistics rocket test in 2015

and to show just how powerful their rocket sleds are, you can see a test done in 2017 and as recently as 2023.

So what's the moral of the story? Well if it wasn't for their endless testing, we most likely would not have as many scientific advantages as we would today. Not to mention, we have some unbelievable footage of incredible explosions and crashes to share on the internet. And to that, we owe huge thanks to the folks at Sandia National Labs.

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