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There was always a controversy about what happened, but I think the "official" explanation was that the recovery chutes deployed accidentally and ruined the car's aeros (such as they were).

Man, that thing made some serious thrust, but it sure didn't look like a long enough burn to hit 280 mph to me. The big problem was that as soon as the tires left the road, the car became a very draggy airplane with no tail. It was probably unstable about all 3 axes, but pitch instability was the first to manifest. The fact that the parachutes deployed saved the car from continuing to tumble, allowed it to land right side up, and absorbed most of the considerable kinetic energy.

There are a lot of reasons why no airplane has ever looked like a Lincoln Mk IV. Dare devils would do well to consult several engineers, physicists, and aerodynamicists before trying stuff like this.

Neil
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