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Survival in the Skies

Survival in the Skies

  • Premiered: 
    November 28, 2017
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: Smithsonian
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter:
  • Tags: science, engineering, aeronautics, space

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Plot Synopsis

Featuring stories of the people who created breakthroughs in air and space travel and the men and women who relied on them when their survival hung in the balance, SURVIVAL IN THE SKIES is a four-part documentary series that highlights pieces of space and aviation technology -- from the invention of the parachute to the development of space suits. The series opener, "Space Suits," reveals the technology that allowed Neil Armstrong to walk on the moon in 1969 and which will eventually allow explorers to walk on Mars. Engineers, fashion designers and astronauts tell the story of a "spacecraft you can wear." From the first crude suits that nearly killed early cosmonauts, to the reusable "personal habitats" of the Space Station, discover the evolution of the technology that allows humans to thrive in the most hostile conditions in the universe. Then, the second episode, "Parachutes," chronicles how parachutes have saved more than 100,000 lives since their invention, and using one is now safer than driving a car. But the development of this life-saver required huge leaps of faith by pioneering engineers and courageous test jumpers who risked their lives for innovation. Discover the untold story of parachutes, from the early test-jumps from WWI biplanes to the massive chutes that land vehicles on Mars. Next, in the third episode, "Ejection Seats," when a fighter jet is spiraling out of control, a rocket-powered ejection seat may be the pilot's only hope of salvation. Originally designed as a spring-loaded chair, today's ejection seats are $100,000 computer-controlled flying machines that have saved the lives of over 10,000 pilots. Discover the stories of the pilots whose lives were saved and the inventors who risked it all to design and test new generations of ejection seats. And the finale, "The Jet Race," documents how the jet engine changed civilization forever, making global travel cheaper and faster. More than 100,000 commercial jet flights take off and land every day, while super high-tech military jets can blast through the sky at over six times the speed of sound. From the first prototype gas-turbine engine to tomorrow's hypersonic jets, this is the ultimate history of the jet innovation, told by the inventors and pioneers who risked their lives to pilot them to new heights and speeds.
On Tuesday, December 19, 2017 at 9pm ET/PT, Smithsonian Channel premiered "The Jet Race," the season finale of SURVIVAL IN THE SKIES. In just a few decades, the jet engine has advanced warfare, transformed the way people travel and do business, and may soon change the way we explore space. Join us as we track its history, from the first crude attempts to build a prototype gas turbine engine to the Pratt and Whitney J58, which can outrun a missile. It's a story of ingenuity, bravery, and dogged determination, told by those who invented it, those who push it to new limits, and those who dream of taking it to new heights.

Production & Distribution

  • Produced by Arrow International Media