The Physics of Shooting Someone Out of a Cannon

The Physics of Shooting Someone Out of a Cannon

Despite popular belief, the cannons that are used to shoot people high into the air does not use cannon powder. Instead they used compressed air to project the person forward. When the cannon is fired, a sled that is in the cannon shoots forward and stops at the top of the cannon at a force of 3,000 to 6,000 pounds per square inch. The person of course keeps flying forward into hopefully, a safety net. When setting up the cannon a few things need to be considered: the wind speed, temperature, body weight, distance, and obstacles. If you ask a human cannon they’ll tell you that landing is the real danger.

The trouble with landing is that the nets although measuring about 50 meters; it is still a small target for a person to land in. As the landing space is about 50 meters, everyone who is involved with the stunt needs to constantly measure the wind speed. If they do not, the person will fly off course and will end in a fatal accident. Body weight is also a huge contributor. If the person is even a pound off, it will totally throw off the projectile of the launch. The most important part of the whole launch is checking the person over when they come down from the launch. It’s common for the person to have bumps and bruises when they land. It is also possible for them to have broken some bones. The force of the cannon shooting off can buckle legs and fracture and break bones. Before getting shot out of a cannon, the human cannonball must be taught how to stand in the cannon and handle the pressure of being shot out of a cannon. The legs must be in a locked position because of the force of the initial force the cannon exerts on the person. If the person’s legs were not in a locked position, the board at the bottom out shoot up and the person’s legs would buckle, causing them to veer off course sending the person flying to their death.

Another thing the person needs to worry about is the g- force. When being shot out of a cannon, the person has to accelerate quickly to reach the landing zone. If the person did not train properly to handle the pressure of g-forces pushing down on their body, they might black out, and miss the landing zone.

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