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Pilot 1: Jet Car (JATO) and Pop Rocks

  • Attaching Jet-Assisted-Take-Off (JATO) rocket can cause a car to become airborne: busted
  • Pop rocks and soda can cause your stomatch to burst: busted

At long last, thanks to the help of Paul, I've been able to watch the much heralded Jet Car episode. It was different from their other episodes, in that it was 80% jet car myth and 20% secondary myth (Pop Rocks and Cola). Accordingly, this entry will be 80% jet car and 20% Pop Rocks.

Jet Car (JATO)

The Jet Car myth is a popular one that you can read about on Snopes. As the myth goes, a former Air Force officer gets a hold of a JATO (Jet Assisted Take-Off) unit and decides to attach it to his 1967 Chevy Impala. He gets his car up to about 80mph and then lights off the JATO. The JATO pushes the car up to 300 mph. The driver tries to brake the car, but the car won't stop and the brakes burn out (evidenced by long skidmarks in the road). The car then takes off and slams itself into the side of a cliff. The Arizona Highway Patrol is left to cleanup the mess.

Jamie and Adam had two main obstacles to overcome: acquiring a '67 Impala, and acquiring a JATO. The first proved difficult, but they managed to find an old Thunderbird Impala up in the Central Valley. It came with the added benefit that a previous owner had set it up with hydraulics. With a bit of steel cage reinforcement and yet-another-Jamie-remote-control-car conversion (#3 by my count), the car was ready-to-go.

The second obstacle proved impossible; the military seemed a tad bit unwilling to part with a rocket. Their solution was to use three model rocket engines instead that were actually 50% more powerful than the JATO. The rocket engines burned for a shorter length of time, so they set up one of the rockets to fire four seconds after the first two.

The actual test took place in a flat, dryed-out lake bed. Jamie wired up the car with remote controls and neither he or Adam was dumb enough to sit behind the controls. They also got a helicopter to chase the car so that the remote controls would stay in range.

The first launch was aborted -- a clogged fuel filter stopped the test before the rockets were fired.

The actual launch was awesome. The rockets fired perfectly and the car took off with a massive cloud of dust behind it. It took off like a dart into the horizon, and it was one of the rare moments where Jamie grinned ear to ear. It's probably needless to say, but the car stuck to the dirt (the story of the jet car is a complete fabrication).

My only 'complaint' for this mythbusting was that they didn't follow their mantra: they recreated the myth, but they didn't recreate the results. If this was their traditional mythbusting, they would have added more rockets on top of the roof, shifted the hydraulic suspension to create more lift, added wings, etc... Obviously, safety concerns probably prevented them from launching a rocket-propelled car.

Pop Rock stomach explosion

The secondary myth was the old story about your stomach bursting if you eat Pop Rocks and drink soda. The combination of the carbonation of the soda and the Pop Rocks is supposed to create a miniature stomach bomb.

Adam and Jamie rigged up a pig stomach inside of a skeleton and made a giant syringe to quickly inject the ingredients into the stomach. They included a mixture of hydrochloric acid to replicate the ph of the stomach (quick aside: it turns out that the acidity of your stomach doesn't aid in digestion, it's there to protect the body against germs).

The mixture of Coke, Pop Rocks, and acid failed to burst the stomach, but it did do a good job of expanding the stomach to large proportions (it did have at least six cans of Coke I believe).

Not satisfied, and returning to their previous mantra of replicating the results of the myth, the turned to baking soda. Their first attempt with the baking soda didn't burst the stomach, but a second attempt that added even more burst the back of the stomach and splashed the contents onto the camera.

All-in-all, this particular mythbusting felt a bit like a Pop Rocks commercial, especially with the Pop Rocks executive giving frequent commentary.


Actually, they did aquire an impalla... They looked at the thunderbird but instead went with the impalla from the guy in the central valley.

Ooops, my bad. I don't know jack about old cars.

How can I get ahold of this episode? Discovery will not replay it! Can I download it? Anyone have a tape they can send me?

Just in case any of you are are developing into addicts over this show, there is a site started by folks who got sick of the lack of moderation on the Discovery Channel site. Quaite a few answers are found there and the new "Mythtern" Christine Chamberlain is an anonymous member.

"Jato Car" is being shown 3/30/04 at 10pm EDT USA.

is there any where were i can see this

You can buy this episode from the Discovery Channel Store. The DVD comes with all of the pilot episodes:

i no they busted the pop rocks myth but it would feel really weird to have that sort of chemical reaction in your would be awesome to see though

They have all these episodes in Amazon Prime now.