|Mark E. Gunnison||www.MGCPA.com|
The Arizona Highway Patrol came upon a pile of smoldering metal, embedded into the side of a cliff running above a strip of highway, at the apex of a curve. The wreckage resembled the site of an airplane crash, but it was actually the remains of a car. The type of car, however, was unidentifiable at the scene. The crackerjack police crime lab, after much pondering and computing of highly improbable and annoyingly complex physics formulas, finally figured out what it was and the details of what had happened.
It seems that the driver of the car had somehow gotten hold of a JATO unit - as in, Jet Assisted Take Off - which is actually a solid fuel rocket used to give heavy military transport planes an extra "push" for taking off from short airfields. He had then driven his Chevy Impala out into the desert and found a long, straight stretch of road, attached the JATO unit to his car, jumped in, got up some speed, and fired it off.
The facts as best as could be determined by what little was left of him, are that the operator of the former 1967 Impala hit the JATO ignition at a distance of approximately 3.9 miles from the final crash site. This was determined by the very prominent, and somewhat smelly, scorched and melted asphalt at that location.
If operating properly, the JATO would have reached "maximum thrust" within 5 seconds after ignition, causing the Chevy to reach speeds well in excess of 350 mph, and continuing at full power for an additional 20-25 short but certainly harrowing seconds.
At this point, the driver, now pilot, and soon-to-be cadaver, would be experiencing g-forces usually reserved for dog-fighting F-14 pilots under full afterburner blowout, and reducing him to nearly two-dimensional status for the rest of the ride.
However, the trusty Impala managed to remain on the highway for an additional 2.5 miles (15-20 seconds in rocket travel time) before the driver, in a nearly superhuman (and superstupid) effort to stop the car, applied the brakes. Not completely un-like ice cream on a hot summer day, the brakes immediately melted, and the tires subsequently blew, leaving thick streaks of steamy rubber on the road surface. The Impala, now without either brakes or wheels, and therefore . . . . airborne . . . . continued for an additional 1.4 screaming miles of fun, before impacting a cliff face at an amazing height of 125 feet, leaving a blackened crater 3 feet deep in the rock.
Sadly, but not unbelievably, most of the driver's remains were not recoverable. However, small fragments of bone, teeth and hair were extracted painstakingly from the smoking crater, and fingernail and bone shards were removed from a piece of debris believed to be a portion of the steering wheel.
All in all, about enough to fill a maraca.
So remember kids, it's all fun and games until someone loses an eye.