Built in 1889, the Eiffel Tower quickly became a symbol of France’s modern place in the world. At the time one of the tallest and most unique looking structures in the world, it inspired dozens of replicas and dreams about what the human spirit can accomplish. But one engineer, Charles Carron of Grenoble, saw something much more than that. He envisioned a thrilling amusement park-like attraction that puts riders inside the case of a giant bullet.
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The concept is a little more than absurd and it’s unclear where M. Carron came up with the idea, but I have to admit it sounds a little fun. The bullet-shaped tube designed to fit a group of people would be set to hang from the interior top of the tower, 1,000 feet off the ground. What awaited below was not a tragic death (hopefully) but a large pool of water where their descent would continue. After a few more more seconds of traveling to the bottom of the pool they would already be on their way back, floating to the top of the pool. It wasn’t about the arrival point but the journey, because the bullet would be traveling twice the speed any human had ever gone before. The bullet weighed in at a whopping 20,000 pounds meaning it’s going to drop quickly; really quickly. 1/3 of the way down it would already moving at around 150 ft per second, faster than the speediest train in the world at the time. And immediately before impacting the water it would be a blazing 250 feet per second.
The insane speed is why the ride was shaped as a bullet; the long tapered front prevented the riders from a crushingly gruesome death. M. Carron had planned for this possibility and designed the ride with all this in mind. Its interior would hold 15 passengers and have a series of hulls to stop the air from being compressed too quickly. The pool itself – shaped like a martini glass – would have a depth of 170 feet, hopefully enough to slow the contraption down.
Alas, the world will never see the results of this wacky idea for no one stepped forward to build or even fund the thing. Probably for the best.