A Cold War relic used by the U.S. Air Force will be showcased at the Grissom Air Museum in its newest exhibit documenting the unique history of Indiana’s Grissom Air Reserve Base.
The rocket sled is an obscure piece of military equipment that was used to test an ejection-rescue system for the B-58 Hustler bomber plane, the Kokomo Tribune reported.
In 1961, the air force base was selected to house the supersonic nuclear strike plane. Museum Board Member Tom Kelly said the B-58 Hustler’s high-altitude and high-speed performance capabilities presented issues because the crew was at risk of being killed if they had to eject using a conventional ejection system.
Engineers tested the rocket sled by accelerating to supersonic speeds and launching a fully pressurized capsule into the sky. Kelly said those tests eventually led to a working ejection system for the bomber plane.
Kelly said the 50-foot sled was previously on display at the Global Power Museum at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. The museum agreed to give Grissom the sled as a permanent loan after one of the museum’s volunteers requested to borrow it for a display.
“The (Global Power) museum decided that we should have it when we asked for it,” Kelly said. “It’s really quite an honor to get it up here.”
Museum Director Tom Jennings said the sled will be stored behind the museum until it’s placed on permanent display in the museum’s airfield.
“It’s garnered a lot of interest,” Jennings said. “We’ve had a lot of enthusiasm about it. It’s a good item to have here because it helps us tell more of the story of the B-58 pilots and what they trained for and how they prepared for flights.”
Jennings said the sled is expected to be on display no later than April.