Astro Spiral: Revisiting the greatest car stunt of all time


Publicity stunts are the unsung heroes of science. Isaac Newton’s falling apple, Benjamin Franklin’s key and kite, and Watson, the IBM computer that creamed the human competition on Jeopardy!—all popularized scientific concepts that shaped the modern world. But as important as gravity, electricity, and artificial intelligence are, those stunts weren’t as spectacularly cool as the Astro Spiral Jump.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/03/14/the-greatest-car-stunt-of-all-time-the-astro-spiral


John missed an interesting difference in the recent Spiral jumps: Dyrdek almost lost it and had a tail down trajectory (note picture and view videos), The jaguar, which Ray McHenry and I, Brian McHenry, helped them set up was a perfect trajectory! see http://www.mchenrysoftware.com/board/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=1118


On additional correction, the statement “Milligan also had connections at General Motors, and a Javelin was taken to GM’s laboratories and measured exhaustively” should have been Millikan, as in Bill Milliken.
From our forum topic on Bill “Ray has always said that without Bill’s perseverance and influence that project would have never been completed. Bill fought for the project and fought off the CAL management who were paranoid about liability. Bill was somehow able to arrange to have the original AMC Javelin vehicle measured at the GM Proving Grounds in Michigan. Yes, that is correct; somehow Bill was able to arrange to have an AMC vehicle measured at the GM facility. Talk about pull!” from http://www.mchenrysoftware.com/board/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=313
Bill passed July 28, 2012 https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/william-f-milliken-jr-renowned-aeronautical-engineer-and-pilot-dies-at-101/2012/08/01/gJQA2XsGQX_story.html?utm_term=.7ca7b782a038


Without Ed Fatinger’s engineering help, the Dyrdek spiral would not have happened within the time and budget constraints we faced. Having essentially copied Jay Milligan’s ramps, we learned on the first attempt that there were major changes needed to facilitate the 50 year newer platform of the Sonic and in all truth, we should have gone to Ed from the start rather than go with JM’s design. 7 more attempts with major modifications to the ramps before each new try gave us something we felt that a performer like Rob could safely attempt. We warned Rob that speed was critical as to bear-hug the steering wheel as it pulls very hard to the right as the right front wheel is on the final stage. The data suggested that Rob went about 3 MPH too fast and it was apparent in the frame by frame video playback the car had steered too far to it’s right which changed the flight path making the touchdown more of a miracle than a landing. Much credit goes to Elia Popov and his team at JEM Effects, as well James Smith and Eric Matuschek, the co-designers-fabricators and stunt performers who were the key parts of my team. Thank you for the terrific article, it was and is a very proud accomplishment for us and James has gone on to do a very nice landing in a Crown Victoria on another project. Jimmy Canton-Kolsto did more Astro Spiral Jumps than any man in history while working for Jay Milligan. We flew him from Iowa to LA twice to educate us and to see Rob off on his terrific performance for Chevrolet. Jimmy and I email jokes to each other daily. He must be 88 by now but hero’s like him are hard to come by and good to keep.
Mike Ryan March 16, 2018.