Sept 30, 2010 via email: Q: Am I understanding correctly that the basic idea for the spiral jump came from your work in simulating vehicle dynamics in different sorts of crash scenarios? It seems like the basic calculations of how to do the jump seem straightforward, but then again, that's just my undergrad physics mind working. What made that particular jump so difficult, and why hasn't it been done (much) since? As you can see, I am fascinated by this thing.
A: The idea for the spiral jump came to Ray
as a unique way to validate the HVOSM simulation model
that he created/invented. Most validations of computer simulation models involve running full scale or laboratory tests and then running the simulation to determine correlation of results. The inputs and modeling can be tweaked to improve the correlation to demonstrate the 'best' correlation possible (as had been done in the initial validations of the HVOSM
But what Ray
wanted was a unique and blind way to validate the HVOSM
So while attending a 'thrill show' at the Erie County Fair
in Buffalo, NY doing an activity with his wife and children (I being one of em!) (we occasionally got him to step away from the equations
Apparently an idea came to him while watching the auto thrill show for a unique idea of validating the HVOSM simulation model
; To design a ‘thrill show’ stunt. The basics of the stunt were to have a vehicle run up a ramp, spiral 360 degrees and and land on its wheels and continue driving. A sort of a spiral footballing of the vehicle.
The stunt would be impossible to create in the field. Most other thrill show stunts have been designed by the 'seat of the pants'. Meaning that in the old days stunts like ramp-to-ramp jumps were ‘designed’ by simply running a vehicle at various speeds up a ramp and landing on something soft to find the speed required for the distance. Vehicles were cheap…
Obviously a spiral jump would be too intricate a design to create by seat of the pants; what type of launch? What type of landing? The intricate nature of the ramps would be too complicated to build, run a test, rebuild, etc.
But it would be a great way to demonstrate the validity of the HVOSM computer simulation model
. Simply set up a simulation of the vehicle and design/setup a ramp in the computer and design/setup a landing ramp. During the design phase you could ‘crash’ hundreds of simulated vehicles and thereby design without peril the takeoff and landing ramps.
NOTE: The Spiral jump was also done early 1970's, with mainframe computers and limitations on computation power and capabilities.
Then once the Spiral jump was designed with the HVOSM
simulation model the ultimate ‘test’ of the simulation model would be to run a full scale test and see how well the HVOSM
predicted the motions of the automobile?
He contacted Jay Milligan
with JM Productions and the All American Thrill Show (The thrill show at the Erie County Fair at that time) to see if he'd be interested.
The rest, as they say, is history.
claims in various PR related to the stunt that 'he'll take the secret of the spiral jump to his grave', the details of the stunt are no secret. There is the patent on the Spiral Jump stunt
as the inventor (although the legal council at Calspan
, where Ray worked at the time of the invention, were so scared of the liability of the ‘live’ stunt that they basically gave Jay
the worldwide rights to the stunt).
Obviously the patent has expired and we have been approached by other stunt shows and TV programs (like TopGear
) but all have been 'all talk, no contracts' since it would take some redesign of the takeoff and landing ramps (and therefore some form of a contract and insurance, etc etc) to design the stunt for a different vehicle.
The stunt design and implementation represents a unique situation: Ray worked at Calspan
with all sorts of support staff without whom it would not have been possible. In particular the support of Bill Milliken
who among other supernatural feats such as his finesse of the wary Calspan management to allow the stunt to be created was that he also was somehow able to get GM to measure the properties of the AMC stunt vehicle at the GM proving grounds
Please see the other thread on our forum which contains additional information and links on various items related to the spiral jump
Question on James Bond Spiral Jump Stunt