Premier Date: May 20, 2009
In their first test, Adam and Jamie constructed a steel seesaw and placed a dummy on one end whose weight matched that of an average 6-year-old girl. To approximate the effect of a skydiver hitting the high end at terminal velocity, they calculated the proper combination of weight and height and dropped several water-filled barrels. The impact crushed the seesaw, ruptured the barrels, and launched the dummy to a height of 20 feet (6 m). Adam and Jamie went on to design and built a seesaw that could effectively deliver the energy of the falling skydiver to the girl without buckling.
The Build Team was brought in to further analyze the terminal velocity based on a specific type of skydiving suit and the diver’s body position; the determined it was 122 miles per hour (196 km/h). They also built a rig with bungee cords and guide wires that could accurately propel a dummy diver onto the target at the right speed. The child dummy was outfitted with “shock watch” stickers to measure the forces exerted on it. Three drops were carried out.
Based on the need for a super-strong seesaw and the injuries inflicted on the girl, the team declared the myth busted.