It seems that NASA and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have 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 the FAA’s chicken launcher, loaded the chicken and fired. The ballistic chicken shattered the windshield, went through the engineer’s chair, broke an instrument panel and embedded itself in the back wall of the engine 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.”


  1. i used to work for BAe as an aeronautical engineer and yes frozen chickens do get used in the development for aircraft windscreens. i have seen it being done.

  2. NASA are just as bad as us Brits. They spent millions developing a ball-point pen that would work in the zero gravity of space. Russians spent 50 c on a pencil 🙂

  3. Well, Mythbusters busted that story… Thawed or frozen, chicken made the same damage when fired from the chicken gun. Actually, its the mass and velocity of the chicken that matters for the impact force, not being frozen or thawed.

  4. I have seen what big bird can do, years ago one of our DC-9’s hit a goose coming out of ORD, dented leading edge about the circumference of a basketball and about half as deep.


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