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Watch a 457 mph wind blast a man's face in crazy vintage footage

The Internet dredges up a fascinating old film showing an extreme wind tunnel test of a brave volunteer getting buffeted by a gale.

There's a gale going on inside this wind tunnel.
Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

Think of standing outside on the windiest day you can imagine. Now make it windier. It's still not windy enough. Back in 1946, researchers at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronatics (NACA) Langley Research Center (now run by NASA) popped a test subject into a massive wind tunnel and pummeled him with a 457 mph (735 kph) wind.

The film's official title is "Navy Investigation in Langley 8-Foot High-Speed Tunnel Human Tolerance to Wind Blasts."

The face-flapping video is an intense thing to watch. It starts off quietly, with scientists prepping the equipment and securing "Subject #1" into a seat before the test. He looks pretty happy and calm about his situation at first.

The artificial wind starts to blow, powered by massive fan blades. The human guinea pig's shirt collar starts to flutter. The wind velocity increases and his cheeks are vibrating by the time the machine hits 165 mph. It just gets rougher from there.

The test subject closes his eyes tight to save his eyeballs from the blasting air. You wonder if his face ever felt the same way again after enduring this kind of torture.

The film has no sound, but you can fill in the blanks by making your own wooshing noises if you like.

According to NASA, the wind tunnel was built in 1936 at a cost of $266,000 in funding from the Public Works Administration (about £179, 550, AU$267,850). The space agency describes it as "the world's first large high-speed tunnel."

The footage has been available in the public domain for some time, but YouTube user Jeff Quitney published a new version on Saturday with improved video quality that makes for a cleaner viewing experience. Quitney runs the Quickfound.net YouTube channel, a repository of documentary, educational and training films that have been processed for better audio and visual quality. You will never look at a windy day quite the same way again.

(Via Boing Boing)