The Story of John Paul Stapp and How a Renegade Doctor Became the Fastest Man on Earth
The untold story of an eccentric, scientific visionary whose death-defying research has saved millions of lives.
Sixty years ago, cars and aeroplanes were deathtraps waiting to happen. Today, both are safer than they were, thanks in part to a pioneering US Air Force doctor’s research on seatbelts and ejection seats. The exploits of John Paul Stapp (1910–1999) come to life in this biography of a man who was once blasted across the desert in his Sonic Wind rocket sledge, only to be slammed to a stop in barely a second. The experiment put him on the cover of Time magazine and allowed his swashbuckling team to gather the data needed to revolutionise car and aeroplane design. From the high-altitude balloon tests that ensued to the battles for car safety legislation, Craig Ryan’s book is as much a history of the transition into the Jet Age as it is a biography of the man who got us there more safely.