io9 on the flying bears
The "science" blog io9 has exposed information about testing practices used by the U.S. Air Force during the Cold War. When developing the B-58 Hustler, a supersonic jet bomber used between 1962-70, black bears from the U.S. and the Himalayas were used to test the functionality of the plane´s capsule ejection system. The bear, presumably not actually piloting the plane, would sit in the capsule which would then be ejected from the plane with a rocket engine and subsequently fall to the ground with a parachute. Having first used unemployed people as test subjects in ground-based trials, drugged bears and chimps were used for high altitude testing, some of them suffering fractures and other internal injuries.