John Paul Stapp, MD, PhD, a US Air Force
researcher who subjected himself to huge gravitational forces in the study
of human endurance when exposed to supersonic maneuvering and mishaps, died
November 13, 1999, at his home in Alamagordo, NM,
at age 89.
Beginning in the immediate post–World War II years, he volunteered
to be strapped into rocket-powered steel research sleds on concrete-embedded
tracks to determine human tolerance to acceleration and deceleration forces.
His findings are credited with playing a key role in proving that humans can
operate vehicles traveling through space at ever-increasing speeds and can
escape from them in an emergency. On the ground, for the general public, his
data were critical for today's standard supplying of seat belts and air bags
in most US motor vehicles.
Gunby P. John Paul Stapp, MD, PhD. JAMA. 2000;283(14):1894. doi:10.1001/jama.283.14.1894