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Discovery Channel crashes 727 to, um, see what happens

Deep in the Mexican desert, a 727 comes into land and smashes into pieces. This is, the channel says, part of an unprecedented documentary.

Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

It is always a little frightening to see a plane plummet towards Earth, especially if you're often forced to travel in one.

What might it have looked like for those who, last Friday, watched a 727 crashing in the Mexican desert -- with the full knowledge and co-operation of the pilot?

I am grateful to the Daily Mail for making my Monday so much more exciting with this information.

According to a Discovery Channel press release, this was done in the service of "an unprecedented international television documentary for Discovery Channel, Channel 4 in the UK, plus Pro Sieben in Germany. "

I always remember Channel 4 in the U.K. as being terribly keen on shows about sex and other subjects that make Americans uncomfortable.

But, in this case, it is serious business. Discovery says that there were no passengers aboard -- only crash test dummies-- should anyone have wondered whether this was a bizarre experiment in euthanasia.

Instead, the pilot ejected a couple of minutes before the plane went splat. Its end was effected by remote control from a chase plane.

What the producers hope to learn is just how survivable a plane crash can be and how the human body is truly affected by it. In addition, the plane carried new black box technology that was being tested.

The series for which this experiment was undertaken is called "Curiosity." The show's producers say that the last time a similar deliberate plane crash occurred was as part of a NASA project 30 years ago.

For this, though, there must have been quite a budget, as 300 people were involved in making sure this crash happened, um, safely.

Perhaps it was one of those 300 -- with the handle of FUEGO343 -- who posted the video to YouTube.

It must have been a relief for the producers that no one was hurt and there was "no damage to property" in the making of this experiment. Who can possibly forget when the nice men on "Mythbusters" fired a cannonball and it ended up in someone's house?

Yes, someone who wasn't expecting a cannonball that day.

Perhaps the most chilling part of this footage lies in how the first-class cabin simply shears off from the remainder of the fuselage. Some might be very disturbed to discover that there might be extra padding for those up front, in the event of a survivable crash.