Rocket Sled, Sonic Wind I


Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

This is the Sonic Wind 1 rocket sled, which was powered by nine solid fuel rockets with 40,000 pounds total thrust for five seconds. Air Force Lt. Col. John Stapp first rode the sled on March 19, 1954, at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, and reached a speed of 613 feet per second. During acceleration, he was subjected to a force of 22 times that of gravity (22 g's). He made his second run on the sled on August 20, 1954 attaining a speed of 735 feet per second.

On December 10, 1954, he made his last and most notable ride on the sled reaching a speed of 632 miles per hour. Stapp underwent a force of 40 g's, the highest g force any human had endured to that time. The sled rides helped determine the effects of extreme acceleration on the human body, data that was very useful in aerospace medicine.

The sled was transferred to the Smithsonian in 1966 by the U.S. Air Force.

Collection Item Long Description:

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Restrictions & Rights

Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum

Credit Line

Transferred from U.S. Air Force


Originally made of chrome-molybdenum tubing; overall, steel.


  • Overall: 24 ft. 4 in. × 6 ft. 4 in. × 8 ft., 11000lb. (741.7 × 193 × 243.8cm, 4989.6kg)
  • 3-D (rocket, each): 49.9kg (110lb.)

Country of Origin

United States of America





Inventory Number


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