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Transportation Science

What Happens If You Get Sucked Out of a Plane? 327

Posted by Roblimo
from the do-not-try-this-at-home dept.
astroengine writes "We've all wondered about it. When flying at 30,000ft, you look around the cramped economy class cabin thinking 'I wonder if I'd survive being sucked out of this plane if a hole, say, just opened above my head?' That's probably around the time that you should fasten your seat belt. According to medical experts interviewed by Discovery News in the wake of the Southwest Airlines gaping hole incident, the rapid depressurization, low oxygen levels and freezing cold would render you unconscious very quickly. Assuming you don't get chopped in half as you exit through the hole and hit the tail, you'd be long dead before you hit the ground. Nice."
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What Happens If You Get Sucked Out of a Plane?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 10, 2011 @05:23AM (#35772750)

    I thought this was obvious, even from a non scientific point of view?

  • Re:Not really (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 10, 2011 @06:48AM (#35772976)

    We're talking about like half of one atmosphere, here. I don't think you're going to get the bends.

  • Re:Not really (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Sunday April 10, 2011 @06:56AM (#35773004)

    You don't get bonus points for "but he survived to feel the impact" on your autopsy report.

    There is no effing achievement for that!

    Meh, I'd rather not be put down in my sleep like an ailing pet, thanks. More seriously though, the will to survive is probably the single most important factor in any survival situation, closely followed by knowledge of what to do in your environment. Its shocking how many people just give up, lie down and die, sometimes when help was close at hand. Keeping your spirits up is vital, even if you've just been sucked out of a plane! :D

  • Re:Not really (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Sunday April 10, 2011 @09:26AM (#35773406)

    That's about as useful as saying "whoever wants it more will win the game", along with a list of other mind-over-matter clichés.

    Not really. One example that I can think of (I haven't the details handy) was when two liferafts were deployed from a sinking ship, same equipment in each, same number of people. In one the captain lost the run of himself, didn't keep up discipline, and eventually ended up dying, while the people in his raft were malnourished and near death when recovered. On the other raft however the first mate maintained discipline, kept up spirits, and his guys were able to get into the recovery ship unassisted.

    Mental attitude makes all the difference.

  • by multimediavt (965608) on Sunday April 10, 2011 @09:46AM (#35773472)
    1. Your English needs work or you should at least read your post before hitting submit.
    2. The science in Mythbusters is more sound than your unreferenced observations. The episode in question specifically dealt with a bullet piercing the hull of a plane, causing a larger hole to grow in the fuselage, and sucking someone out, not a gaping hole to begin with. (see [])
    3. The vacuum caused by air rushing by at over 200 MPH caused the pilot of the BA BAC 1-11 to be partially sucked out an improperly installed cockpit window. Simple Bernoulli principle like the one that makes planes fly to begin with, duh. Dumbass should have been strapped in! Here's a view of the cockpit so you get an idea of how close he was to the window to start with. Not hard to see why he was lifted out the window. []
    4. Same thing for the Hawaii flight. The tear opened right above the flight attendant's head and sudden decompression along with the negative pressure caused by the air outside the aircraft traveling in excess of 200 MPH caused her to be sucked out. One-third of the roof of the cabin of the plane tore off! Anything not strapped in or being braced was going out the hole if the pilot hadn't descended and slowed down. Google Aloha 243 for more details. Too many articles to list here.
    5. And finally, yes, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster investigation showed that people can survive catastrophic failure of an aircraft/spacecraft inside the atmosphere. Belief aside, the fact is if the decompression occurred above 16,000 feet they were most likely unconscious within seconds and the whole rest of the way down. Alive, most likely, but certainly not likely aware.

    Nothing wrong with the science going on Mythbusters, but certainly selective memory distorts people's memories of what they actually tested.

    So, what happens when you get sucked out a plane? Simple answer is you die. Complex answer is you die after being rendered unconscious by the lack of oxygen or trauma from hitting a part of the plane then hit the ground, OR you are conscious and screaming until you hit the ground. Bottom line, gravity wins!

  • by Ogive17 (691899) on Sunday April 10, 2011 @10:46AM (#35773780)

    Another incident involved a pilot being SUCKED out through the window in front of him (showing just how wrong the DISCOVERY mythbuster program is in its logic and research). He was SUCKED out and exposed to the cold and lack of oxygen for a long time AND survived.

    What happened to the pilot and what the Mythbusters did are two completely different things. By the way, don't you remember when one of the front windows of the plane they were using blew out and sucked everything from the cockpit, including seat cushions, out the window? But that wasn't their test, their test was if a bullet hole would cause catastrophic failure, which it didn't.

    The simple fact is that Myth Busters is a great example of bad science where they ignore recorded evidence and then twist the experiment until it doesn't resemble to claim at all. The clearest example was the "myth" of Jaws being able to hit a boat. So they tested the myth of a super sized shark hitting a boat, by using a smaller shark because Jaws was an unrealistic size... well? That is the myth, the myth is NOT real shark doing something real shark don't do.

    Do you know how silly that is? I guess they should next test if humans can fly since Super Man can do it.... but somehow they need to find a real superhuman first. What could would it be for a fantasy shark do fantasy damage? Their test was if a great white could actually do that type of damage. In order to test something worthwhile, they tried to make the scenario as realistic as they could.

    I'm not going to say Mythbusters does everything right all the time. But your are trying to compare apples to oranges with your examples.

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