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Super Human Challenge!
This car was designed to travel at an amazing 150 mph.
That's like doing the 200 metres in about half a second.
But I've heard of a car that's been designed to travel
nearly seven times faster than that.
A staggering 1,000 mph!
That's faster than a jumbo jet.
It's faster than the speed of sound.
Faster than a speeding bullet.
The fastest car in the world!
To drive a car like that,
you'd need the powers of a superhero.
A superhero like Superman,
who travels at unbelievable speed and defies gravity to battle evil.
But I have heard of a real man who can travel super-fast!
A man who can withstand the forces of staggering speed!
A real-life man that can defy gravity!
At 18 years old, Andy Green joined the Royal Air Force,
training as a fighter pilot. It was here that he discovered
his amazing abilities at supersonic speeds.
He's trained his body and mind to survive the powerful forces
that are produced by the world's fastest machines!
Astonishing scientists around the world,
he is the only human being to break the speed of sound in a car.
And this is him! Andy Green.
-Andy, I'm thrilled to meet you.
-Tim, great to meet you.
And this is a model of the Bloodhound supersonic car?
Exactly right. This is going to be the world's fastest land vehicle.
So driving at that kind of speed must require super skills?
I'm lucky. I've got a background as a Royal Air Force fighter pilot,
so I'm used to controlling things at high speed,
travelling at very high speeds
and, of course, coping with very high G-forces.
So it's that kind of thing when you're on, say, a roller coaster
and your body goes "whoa" against the chair. That's G-force?
-When you go round the dips,
and you're squashed into the seat, that's positive G,
and, as you go up over the top and you float in the seat,
that's zero into negative G.
So would you mind if we undertook three tests, your body against mine,
and we'll test them both and see if your body does something different?
-Up for that?
-Of course. I'm a fighter pilot in the RAF, I'm used
-to be being tested, so absolutely, let's do it.
-Let's have a go.
This is Dr Megan John. She's an expedition doctor
and has kept people alive in some of the most dangerous environments.
She's devised three super-tests
to discover how Tim and Andy's bodies react differently.
Day One and Dr Megan's first test is a real head-spinner.
This might not look like much, but inside here is a piece of equipment
that will let me test how your body reacts to G-force.
In Super-Test One, Dr Megan will use this - a centrifuge.
Tim and Andy will be strapped into one of these hanging pods.
As the centrifuge starts to spin round and round,
the pods will swing out towards the wall.
The faster the centrifuge spins, the more G-forces it makes. Dr Megan
will see how the different levels of G-force affects their bodies.
If you imagine like a washing machine on a fast spin cycle...
-..with all the clothes and the water being squished to either side,
-that's what this will be like.
-Have you been on this thing before?
This is where all RAF fighter pilots come.
We actually come here to train in experiencing G for the first time.
-Wow, so they train fighter jet pilots here?
To make sure that, when we actually fly the aeroplanes, we know
how to counter the G-force pulling the blood away from your head.
Cos the last thing you need when you're flying a aeroplane
is to start to lose your vision or indeed to start to lose
the ability to think and react and co-ordinate.
Everyone has a different tolerance to G-forces.
But when 2 Gs are being applied, you'll feel twice as heavy
and less blood gets to your head, making you feel light-headed.
At 3 Gs, it feels like you're being crushed.
Less blood gets to your eyes, making it harder to see.
Between 4 and 6 Gs, you are in danger of passing out.
Too much G-force over a long period of time
can stop your blood flowing and you could die.
This pod is kitted out with a blood pressure and heart rate monitor.
There are two red lights for Andy and Tim to watch.
The minute these lights begin to disappear,
they must press the stop button
as not enough blood is getting to their brain.
Dr Megan will be monitoring everything from the control room
and will stop the test if things get too dangerous.
So how will Tim cope in the centrifuge?
Will he make it to 6 G?
This does feel like the control centre of something important.
And will Andy reveal super G-force powers
and keep the blood in his brain in this awesome test of the centrifuge?
It's amazing, it starts eerily slowly
and then, suddenly, it kicks off.
The movement of the centrifuge is tipping the pod.
And away we go.
MAN: 'That's 2 G now.'
The centrifuge has started at 2 Gs.
Andy and Tim's bodies should be feeling twice as heavy as normal.
So Tim's having fun at the moment, he's at just over 2 G-force.
Heart rate's really comfortable.
Tim's heart rate might be comfortable,
but as the G-force increases, he's beginning to feel the effects
on other parts of his body.
It feels like there's something pushing down on my shoulders
and it's trying to push me into the floor.
Under the same amount of G-force, Andy seems perfectly calm.
When we hit 2 G of force, Andy's heart rate was still going at only
60-70 beats a minute. Still pretty much the same as it was at rest.
MAN: 'And you're now at 3 G.'
Sort of like there's a hippopotamus sitting on my chest or something.
Trying to stay relaxed.
So he's saying that he feels a lot of weight on his chest.
That's because, at 3 G, you weigh three times what you normally would,
so it literally feels like all the air is being
-squashed out of his lungs and pushed backwards.
-And in response,
-his heart rate's gone up by about 30 extra a minute.
-'That's 4 G now.'
Tim's heart is working harder
to keep the blood moving around his body.
Blood moves around your body in tubes called blood vessels.
Blood vessels stretch open as your heart pumps blood through them.
The force of blood going through them is called blood pressure.
Usually, blood moves evenly from your head to your toes,
but at 3 Gs, the force will push the blood towards your feet.
With the blood being pushed downwards,
it's harder for it to be pumped upwards.
And so there's less blood going to your head
and your blood pressure is lower.
Andy and Tim are now experiencing 4 G.
That's huge. That is a big amount of G pushing down
and I'm going to try and lift my arms up.
Wow! They feel heavy, really heavy!
Most people would be struggling to stay conscious
at this level of G-force. It's amazing that Tim is still going.
I have the red lights.
But even more amazingly,
our G-force man Andy is still feeling little effect.
At a comfortable 4 G, so something
we really are trained to cope with reasonably consistently.
So Andy's heart rate's still going pretty much the same as resting.
It is incredible! At 4 G, Andy's heart rate is the same
as it would be if he was sitting at home having a cup of tea!
OK, we're at 5 G now and I can feel it's affecting my voice,
because my jaw feels like it's dropping out.
Andy's jaw seem unaffected. He's having no problem speaking.
5 G, now starting to work a little bit harder
in terms of feeling the G, supporting my head.
Finally, at 5 G, Andy is starting to feel some effects of the G-force,
but not as much as Tim!
The force is pushing the skin on his face right back.
Dr Megan is worried he could be close to losing his vision.
It's really important you let me know
if those red dots start to disappear.
I still have the red lights.
Your eyes have light-detecting cells at the back of them
that tell your brain what you can see.
These cells need oxygen from your blood to work.
As the G-force pushes blood down,
your eyes get less blood. First of all,
it's only the cells at the edges that stop working
and it seems like you're looking down a tunnel.
Eventually, no blood will get to your eyes
and you won't be able to see anything.
Luckily, when the G-force stops,
blood returns to your eyes and you'll be able to see again.
The centrifuge is now at 6 G.
Starting to get some very slight symptoms around my peripheral vision
and the external lights are very odd.
So we know, if the blood pressure at the level of his eye
falls below about 20, that's when your vision starts to go.
That's when you're about to collapse and faint.
This is an incredible amount of force!
6 G is a massive amount of G-force for the average body.
Tim and Andy's blood pressure is now reaching dangerously low levels
and they're at a very high risk of blacking out.
It's time to stop the centrifuge.
And there we are back to level.
Wow, it's amazing, when they take the force off you,
you feel like you can fly.
So with the first Super Test over, Tim and Andy both got
to an incredible 6 G without losing the lights.
Tim's heart rate more than doubled.
But how did superman Andy do?
Andy's heart rate stayed pretty stable.
It's very surprising, it's not what we'd have expected to see
and it's certainly not what we've seen in Tim.
How does he do it?
Andy's heart is much stronger than a normal person's heart.
Your heart is a muscle and, when it squeezes tightly, it forces blood
into your arteries which carry the blood round your body.
But even when the G-forces are
trying to push Andy's blood down to his feet,
his heart is strong enough to fight the G-forces
and pump blood all the way up to his head.
Experiencing G-forces in the centrifuge
was pretty hard on my body. In some situations,
people change their position to help reduce the G-forces on them.
When taking off from the ground, astronauts withstand around 3 Gs.
They soar into space at 27,000 kilometres per hour.
To reduce the effects of G-forces, the astronauts lie on their backs,
changing the direction of the forces on their bodies.
Lying down makes it easier for their hearts
to pump blood to their brains, so they don't pass out.
When the astronauts reach space,
they stop accelerating and the G-forces stop.
Day Two, Super-Test Two.
I've brought you to Silverstone, the home of the British Grand Prix,
cos the two of you will be driven around the track at top speeds.
Going so fast can generate G-force on your body,
but that'll be increased still further
when the cars brake or take sudden turns.
That can be really disorientating,
and disorientation is what I'm going to be measuring in this test today.
One lap of this race course is almost six kilometres.
The track's 18 sharp corners and bends
will really push Tim and Andy's bodies
as they are thrown about when the car speeds around the track.
And we're doing it in which cars?
These cars might look small,
but they're built to travel up to an incredible 240 kilometres per hour!
Dr Megan's team have fitted each car with cameras
that will record how Tim and Andy react
as they are whizzed around the race track.
This special camera will show us what speed each car is travelling
and the effects of the G-force at different stages of the test.
And just one more thing...
I'm going to be getting the two of you to do this blindfolded.
There's always a catch!
Well, if we take away your visual cues, your body and your brain
find it even harder to work out what's going on.
When you get scared or emotional, your body sweats more
and I've got a special piece of kit called a GSR sensor and this sensor
picks that up by an increasing of electrical current across the skin.
-Are you on for this?
This is quite a tight fit, isn't it?
I can't see anything.
Your body has a balance system that tells your brain when you're moving.
But if you can't see where you're going, your brain gets confused.
At first, you'll start to feel dizzy and sick.
Next, your body will get stressed, your heart will beat faster,
your temperature will rise and you'll start to sweat.
Eventually, you'll be so disorientated,
you might throw up.
Ready? And go!
Andy will be leading the way in the orange car.
-And straight way,
he seems to be enjoying himself.
But Tim, in the white car, seems a little more cautious.
Tim is already feeling the force in his body.
Tim may be getting the corners right,
but Andy seems to be focusing on what the car is doing.
At the bottom centre of the screen is the G-force dial.
It looks like a target.
Look how much they're being banged about in these cars!
The dot in the middle is like their internal organs.
The sudden change of G-force is really dangerous
for your heart, lungs, liver and kidneys,
because it makes them move about in your body.
And if this happens, they can get bruised and damaged.
When your organs are being moved about by G-forces,
your tummy muscles tighten around them to stop them moving so much,
but you can't do this forever
and, eventually, your muscles will start to get tired.
Back in the cars, and Andy seems to know
exactly what part of the track he's on.
It's like he's made a mental map of the course after just one lap.
This means he can prepare his body for the G-force before each corner.
Tim doesn't have a clue where he is!
Fantastic, we can already hear the cars coming round.
Amazingly, Andy is still calm,
and knows exactly where he is on the track!
All this movement can make you feel car sick.
Now this is because your brain takes information from your eyes
and your inner ears to work out if you're moving or not.
If you're in a car and you're reading a book,
sensors in your ears tell your brain that you are moving,
but your eyes get it wrong and tell your brain
that you're sitting still, because the book isn't moving.
These different signals completely confuse your brain.
Now, some scientists believe
that your brain thinks you've been poisoned.
So, in order to get rid of the poison, you need to be sick.
This is called motion sickness.
Going at this sort of pace around a track with 18 bends
would be disorientating enough on its own,
but having put them in blindfolds,
the brain's got no idea what's going on.
Andy's behaving as though he's on a drive to the supermarket.
But Tim looks like he's had enough. It's time to bring in the cars.
It's amazing! Andy's mental map of the course
means he knows they're pulling into the pits.
But Tim's taken a little bit longer to work out what's going on.
With Super-Test Two over,
Dr Megan is keen to find out the results from the stress sensors.
-Thank you very much.
We were looking at the sweatiness to give us an indication
of how disorientated and stressed your bodies were.
For the first lap, you were both getting quite sweaty,
but then Andy managed in his mind
to work out what was happening and where he was going.
And his graph becomes a flat line.
He was as cool as a cucumber throughout.
You, on the other hand, Tim, your graph's all over the place
showing me you were getting more and more disorientated
and more and more sweaty.
The G-forces our bodies experienced during Super-Test Two are nothing
compared to the immense G-forces created by a high-speed car crash.
In 1977, racing driver David Purley was competing
in the Silverstone Grand Prix. But while driving at top speeds,
he lost control of his car and crashed into a wall.
In the crash, he decelerated from 108 mph to zero
in the space of only 66 cm! That's not even the length of my arm!
This produced one of the highest G-forces ever to be survived -
a whopping 179.8 Gs!
David broke his legs, pelvis and ribs,
but amazingly, he was back in racing cars only two years later.
For our third and final test, I've brought you to the airfield
-where Andy keeps his stunt plane.
In order to train his body and get used to his G-force techniques,
he takes his plane up on a regular basis
and performs some pretty incredible manoeuvres.
Just one of the tricks Andy does in this
can take your body up to 8 Gs of force.
That can significantly affect your blood pressure and brain function.
-You up for being Andy's passenger, Tim?
Well, Andy's going to do three of his stunts for us today.
For the first one, he's going to fly up to about 2,000 feet.
-That's about 610 metres.
-And he's going to do a barrel roll.
Next up, a loop the loop, and, finally -
and this one sounds like a terrible stomach churner -
he's going to do a corkscrew spiral nose dive.
Sounds terrible! So we're going down towards the earth in the plane,
-and we're going like that?
And we'll gradually tighten that spiral dive,
so the G gets higher and higher and higher,
to let you experience the rising level of G
until either you say you've had enough
or I'm the only conscious one in the aeroplane and then we'll pull out.
-And I'll be watching you very closely.
If that starts to happen to you,
I'll stop straight away and you'll recover.
The downside is, you will feel rubbish for the rest of the day.
-Throughout the test,
I'll monitor your heart rate and blood pressure
and I'll be asking questions to check on your brain function.
And, don't worry, just to give you a chance, I'll make 'em pretty easy.
So now it's a quiz night as well as an aerobatics display?
That's not making it easier!
And possibly giving your lunch a second appearance.
The team have set up four cameras inside the cockpit
to let us see exactly what Tim is about to go through.
But one camera on the wing has a story to tell.
OK, so, er, just to help us, it's now slightly raining.
It was really good weather before and now we've got a bit of rain.
Is that going to affect anything?
Well, fortunately, I'm quite well trained in this,
you and I can be very brave,
-and we'll go flying in the rain anyway.
It's important that Tim is strapped in nice and tight.
So we've got the sick bags both sides just in case you need them.
Don't worry, you'll be fine.
Now that Tim's happy he's not going to fall out mid-flight,
it's time to go.
Andy eases Tim into the flight with one or two sudden turns.
Tim may only be pulling 4 Gs, but it does look a lot worse.
This is incredible, what they're doing up there.
The pressure on your body is making me feel a bit sick
just even thinking about it.
These barrel rolls are upping the G-force on Tim and Andy to 5 Gs.
So when you spin around,
we apply G-forces both vertically and horizontally through the body.
All your organs get shaken about as if they were in like a tumble drier.
That can make you feel really, really sick.
Just before Andy and Tim's flight took off,
I saw someone else come down from a similar flight.
He was sick all over the place! That's a really typical
average response to this type of pressure on your body.
It's amazing that neither of the two of them have done that.
As Andy goes into a loop the loop,
it seems Tim isn't as scared as we expected.
When Tim first went up, he looked really frightened.
Now he looks like he's having a really good, fun time.
That's the adrenalin surge that happens when you're exposed
to something scary, which can give you a bit of excitement.
Flipping over, it must be making him feel really sick!
Tim? Tim, how are you feeling?
OK, but, Tim, how are you physically feeling?
So, Tim, that's because of all the G-force,
all of these manoeuvres that Andy's plane's doing.
Do you think you can cope with it?
Tim, I want to check how your brain is managing
with all these G-forces going through you,
-so I'm going to ask you some questions, is that OK?
3 + 2 + 2 - 4.
Well done, that's correct.
We're going to make it a little bit harder now, Tim.
5 + 2 + 2 - 4.
5 + 2 + 2 - 4.
Tim seems to be struggling with this one.
Well done, Tim. One more for you, OK?
6 + 3 - 7 + 4.
Good try, Tim.
He got that quite wrong. The answer's six and Tim said three.
It seems that the forces from this flight
are making it harder for Tim to think straight.
Andy, if it's OK, I'd like to ask you some questions too?
OK, 5 + 4 - 7 + 4.
OK, well done, try another one.
4 + 4 - 3 - 2?
He's so quick, I barely caught the answer. ..But yes, well done, Andy.
Andy's training has certainly paid off. He's spot on.
After a few more stomach-churning rolls and turns...
..it's time to come back to base.
I came out here looking for a superhuman!
I have definitely found one!
A real live Superman!
A man who can defy the forces of gravity.
Andy Green, you are Super Human!
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Tim Fitzhigham meets the humans who defy science and puts their powers to the test - against himself. Tim meets Andy Green, holder of the world land-speed record, a man who can endure powerful g-forces while driving cars faster than speeding bullets, and who can perform stomach-churning stunts in the air! But does Andy's extraordinary ability to withstand g-force make him a real-life Superman? Tim challenges Andy to three super tests in order to prove, or disprove, these supersonic, superhuman powers.
Can Tim survive a head-spinning centrifuge, a drive around Silverstone racetrack wearing a blindfold or stand a stomach-churning loop-the-loop in a stunt plane? This is exactly as dangerous as it sounds, so Tim uses state-of-the-art technology, real medical science and his very own mission doctor as he prepares for his challenges.
Is Andy Green a real-life Superman? Be prepared to be amazed by Super Human Challenge!