too sensible for Wikipedia,
but Wackypedia loves the truth.
The NASA Chicken Gun is one of several large diameter compressed air cannon used by the Federal Aviation Administration and US Air Force to test the strength of Aircraft Windshields and the safety of Jet engines. A common danger to aircraft is that they collide with birds in flight. Most parts of an aircraft are strong enough to resist such a bird strike. Jet engines may sustain serious damage, however, and cockpit windows are necessarily made of transparent materials and are a vulnerable spot. Testing to see what the risks are is required.
The Chicken Gun is designed to simulate high speed bird impacts. It is named after its usual projectile: a whole standard sized chicken, as would be used for cooking. This has been found to accurately simulate a fairly large bird. The test target is fixed in place on a test stand, and the cannon is used to fire the chicken into the engine, windshield, or other test structure.
- Get chicken (must be live)
- Place in gun
- Fire at vehicle/aircraft
- Watch the feathers fly
- Do a little dance
- Make a little love
- Get down tonight
There is a longstanding urban legend about the gun being loaned to some other agency, who fired frozen chickens instead of thawed chickens. Research indicates that this is apparently a myth, though in actual fact everybody knows this is true, but the US Government implemented a large cover-up to keep the RSPCA quiet.
Guns are operated by the FAA and the US Air Force as well as NASA.