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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

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

    • Not really (Score:4, Informative)

      by Joce640k (829181) on Sunday April 10, 2011 @05:52AM (#35772844) Homepage

      30,000 feet is about as high as Everest. People have walked up Everest and survived... ...in fact I'm not sure I believe their conclusions. You'd be down to almost 'normal' conditions in about a minute.

      People have survived half an hour at altitudes higher than that, eg. Ewa Wisnierska [timesonline.co.uk].

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

        by cpghost (719344) on Sunday April 10, 2011 @06:17AM (#35772920) Homepage
        Those who walked up the Everest had time to depressurize very slowly. Every diver will tell you what happens if you depressurize too fast.
        • 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:4, Interesting)

            by huge (52607) on Sunday April 10, 2011 @08:53AM (#35773280)
            Oxygen pre-breathing is required for high altitude skydiving to avoid DCS. I'd assume that rapid decompression in the plane would subject you to the same risks.
            • High altitude skydiving is achieved via open air gondolas carried by balloons, meaning that the skydiver is exposed for an extended period of time well in advance of their dive (hence the need for pressure suits and pre-breathing), and is done at altitudes that are roughly three times greater than that of most commercial flights (over 100,000 ft. vs. 30-40,000 ft). In contrast, an airline passenger would be exposed to altitudes that are on par with that of Everest, which people have successfully climbed wit

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

            That's absolutely correct, the pressure difference is equivalent to coming up from a five meters deep dive. I've done that many times but I never stayed that deep more than a minute or so.

            Here's a question for the divers here: do you need special decompression routines if you dive at five meters for long periods?

            • So you skydive, freezing like crazy. You're still breathing from 35K feet all the way down. Your speed will still be determined by terminal velocity.

              There's that rocky ending. Gravity:it's not just a feeling, it's the law.

            • by Creedo (548980)

              Here's a question for the divers here: do you need special decompression routines if you dive at five meters for long periods?

              No. That's the normal depth for doing a safety stop, so why bother? You'd usually run out of air long before you'd hit any nitrogen limits. I sometimes do a minimalist style of diving in the local lakes which involves hitting 10-15 meters while swimming up and down in the water column(chasing fish along cliffs, for what it's worth). I don't even bother with a computer for those.

            • Re:five meters deep (Score:4, Informative)

              by Man Eating Duck (534479) on Sunday April 10, 2011 @11:30AM (#35774030)

              Here's a question for the divers here: do you need special decompression routines if you dive at five meters for long periods?

              PADI certified diver here. No, you don't, as this depth is too shallow to enable dangerous amounts of nitrogen to dissolve in your blood, at least in time spans you can reasonably stay there without getting trouble with hypothermia and exhaustion. Regular dive tables don't even extend to depths shallower than 10 meters, at which you can stay for more than three hours. I'm not certified to make dives that require decompression, that's pro/military territory, but I believe that 3-7 meters are actually common depths for making your last decompression stop.

              On a side note: the bends are a real concern when traveling in aircraft; for instance it's highly discouraged to fly less than 24 hours even after a recreational dive that doesn't require decompression. The pressure in the cabin of a normal jet liner is maintained at a level which corresponds to about 2-3 kilometers above sea level. I'd guess that at least some people would have problems with a sudden decompression at up to 12000 meters, as susceptibility to getting the bends varies greatly from person to person. However, I doubt that it would be severe enough to kill you outright before you reach a lower altitude if you were unlucky enough to be sucked out of the plane. It might be a contributing factor (together with cold and trauma) to a fatal circulatory shock, though.

              • Also PADI certified, since 1981. Man Eating Duck knows what he is talking about. GP, GGP, or GGGP - whoever suggested that there might be problems with a 5 meter dive was talking out his ass.

                • In fact the GPGGP or GGGP which you are tolazy to scroll up, did not pull anythign about 5 meters being a problem out of his ass.
                  He asked politely if there is any diver who can clarify if there is a problem at 5 meters already.
                  angel'o'sphere

            • by rew (6140)

              The thing with diving is: nitrogen gas dissolves in blood ABOVE one atmosphere of pressure, but not much at normal pressure. So if you dive beyond 10m you'll have to be careful, coming back up. But going from 800mbar (pressure inside a plane) to 0.36 bar will not make the nitrogen boil.

            • by 517714 (762276)
              No, Boyle's law applies, if you recall, it is pressure ratio, not pressure difference, so it is equivalent to being fully saturated at about 40 feet and surfacing. If you are a scuba diver, you may recall that adjustments are supposed to be made to the dive tables when diving at altitude. The adjustments suggest that the tissue balance would be worse rather than better at altitude. so getting the bends is likely, but embolism [wikipedia.org] (pulmonary barotrauma) would be the greater threat.
        • by TheLink (130905)
          Sure but I still think you'd hit the ground before you die of any decompression issues.

          The pressure difference between 6000-8000 feet (cabin pressure) and 30000 feet is not big enough to explode you - unlike some rapid decompression accidents (the squeamish probably shouldn't look those up).
          • I also think you would hit the ground before freezing would be a factor. In fact, with the exception of hitting another portion of the airframe, I think the entire article was complete rubbish.

            I used to skydive from 11.5K ft. That's about 55 seconds of free-fall time (with a safety margin). Extrapolating this to 35K suggests another 2.5 minutes. I am probably not going to asphyxiate in that time, either. Especially since I will be in lower altitudes quite quickly.

            Would you be cold? Yes, very. Would yo

      • by jhoegl (638955)
        Yeah, and the wind velocity wont hurt either or knock the wind out of you. Oh you forgot about that?

        Uhg... oh and if you wanna believe it so much, test it.
        • by Dunbal (464142) *
          To be honest with an 800kph slap in the face, I doubt your arms and legs would stay on. I've always wondered if you would spin fast enough to come apart. But I guess sticking monkeys in wind tunnels wouldn't get past the ethics committee...
          • Re:Not really (Score:4, Informative)

            by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe@@@jwsmythe...com> on Sunday April 10, 2011 @05:46PM (#35776246) Homepage Journal

            What do we need test monkeys for, when we've had a real human "volunteer".

                Capt. Timothy Lancaster, British Airways Flight 5390, June 10, 1990. 23,000 feet, 500mph.

                One of the cockpit windshields was improperly secured after a repair, and blew out. He was sucked out of the cabin, and his leg caught on the controls. The flight crew managed to grab his feet and hold on through landing, before he made a full egress.

                He lost consciousness due to lack of oxygen. In addition, he suffered frostbite, bruising, abrasions, and fractures to his right arm, right wrist, and left thumb, and a dislocated shoulder.

                All in all, survivable (and he did). Most of the injuries would have been due to being pulled out the hole, and being pounded against the aircraft.

                If someone made a clean exit, not damaging themselves on the edges of the hole or other parts of the aircraft, it's a survivable event. They may or may not lose consciousness, depending on their breathing and personal fear level. i.e., us adrenaline junkies would probably remain calm-ish, and survive through the air.

                The least likely part to survive is that unintended intersection between their direction of travel, and a solid mass. (i.e., straight down, and hitting the ground).

                As the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy states about flying, "There is an art to flying, or rather a knack. Its knack lies in learning to throw yourself at the ground and miss. Clearly, it is this second part, the missing, that provides the difficulties." I don't know of anyone who has managed the essential second part without artificial help.

      • That was compared to winning the lottery ten times in a row though. I'd say there are probably a few maneuvers you could pull to maximise your chances of survival though - curl up into a ball for the first while (Heat Escape Lessening Posture), then go limp for the last bit of the fall. Are there things you can do to help mitigate sudden pressure changes, like breathe out all the air in your lungs?

        Maybe some people would rather go unconscious given the minimal chances of surviving the impact, but sod that,

        • Erhm.... I think the sensible thing to do is to ponder how to avoid it altogether. By the time you get sucked out of that plane, you are a goner. 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!

          • 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

            • 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

              WTF? Who's gonna not have the will to survive? Isn't screaming in fear an indication of this desire?

              • WTF? Who's gonna not have the will to survive? Isn't screaming in fear an indication of this desire?

                There's a difference between the will to live and the will to survive. Survival means you live by reasoning, determination, training, and actions. Living simply means you continue to breathe until you are found. The will to survive is the mental conditioning of your mind to survive no matter what man, nature, or luck throws at you. Never underestimate the power of the mind.

                • WTF? Who's gonna not have the will to survive? Isn't screaming in fear an indication of this desire?

                  There's a difference between the will to live and the will to survive. Survival means you live by reasoning, determination, training, and actions. Living simply means you continue to breathe until you are found. The will to survive is the mental conditioning of your mind to survive no matter what man, nature, or luck throws at you. Never underestimate the power of the mind.

                  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.

                  • 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.

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

                      by ColdWetDog (752185) on Sunday April 10, 2011 @10:31AM (#35773710) Homepage
                      Yes, that's how Outward Bound [outwardbound.org] got started (the realization that numerous Merchant Marine crews torpedoed in WWII were dying when they really could have survived with training and a better mental attitude). However, the physics of floating in a lifeboat and bailing out at 30,000 feet without gear are slightly different.
                    • by dgatwood (11270)

                      No, it's quite possible, though fairly unlikely, that you would survive, You're going to lose most of that 500 MPH forward velocity to wind resistance pretty quickly. Remember that terminal velocity for a person is only about 100-125 MPH.

                      So the real question that you have to ask is whether you can survive an impact at 100-125 MPH. And the answer is "If you do it right, yes, there's a slim chance." Aim for mud, snow, or trees to cushion your fall.

                      Thus far, I believe the survival record for free fall f

                    • She remained in the plane, [wikipedia.org] pinned down by a catering trolley - effectively a seat belt.
                      Also, she was found with a colleague's body on top of her (effectively an air-bag cushion).
                      Also, the part of the plane she was in crashed into trees on its way down - cushioning the fall.
                      Also, she was found by a trained medic.
                      Also, according to her statements she apparently always had rather low blood pressure - which prevented her from bleeding out until she was found.

          • by th1nk (575552) on Sunday April 10, 2011 @08:41AM (#35773246)
            You don't get bonus points for "but he survived to feel the impact" on your autopsy report.

            No, but if you're already a goner you might as well have some fun with it.

            I've decided that if I manage to survive the exit and the falling, I'm going to aim for someone's swimming pool and then yell CANNONBALL during my last few seconds. Hopefully someone is around to witness it.
          • by SkyDude (919251)

            By the time you get sucked out of that plane, you are a goner.

            If anyone actually read TFA, you'd see there's a big hand [discovery.com] just above the jet that would catch you.

          • by Technician (215283) on Sunday April 10, 2011 @10:20AM (#35773652)

            A pilot was sucked out the cockpit when the windshield blew out. Only his legs remained inside. How about studying real examples for data instead of speculating what might happen.
            http://www.businessinsider.com/jet-pilot-sucked-out-2011-4 [businessinsider.com]
            http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/04/what-to-do-when-your-pilot-gets-sucked-out-the-plane-window/236860/ [theatlantic.com]

      • People have walked up Everest and survived, but at a 1-in-10 death rate. And that's for people who are wearing proper clothing, often have bottled oxygen, and have trained for years to be able to survive a slow changeover from 5,000ft to the top.

        Comparing that to the average untrained person with no oxygen or warm clothing being instantly taken from 7,000 feet-equivalent to 30,000 feet is pretty ridiculous.

  • by Aphrika (756248) on Sunday April 10, 2011 @05:27AM (#35772762)
    A flight attendant was killed when she was blown out of Aloha Airlines flight 243 [wikipedia.org] back in 1988.

    The plane landed with a huge section of fuselage missing, but the other passengers survived. Not a trip I'd like to be on, and makes the Southwest incident look minor in comparison.
    • by Aphrika (756248)
      Ok ok, it was referenced in the article, but the link's useful. Curses Sunday morning skimreading!
    • That wasn't due to depressurization, did you all miss that Mythbusters episode when they shot a hole in the pressurized cabin and nothing scary happened? Aloha airlines was a special incident, the flight attendent was killed when 10 feet of walls and ceiling suddenly peeled off the plane, and the ensuing explosion probably threw her out of the fuselage from where she was standing in the aisle.

      • by Aphrika (756248) on Sunday April 10, 2011 @05:54AM (#35772856)
        I was commenting on the survivability of it, not the cause. In the case of the Aloha incident, it's interesting to note the high number of injuries to survivors who were in the plane, no doubt some were caused by environmental rather than physical trauma.

        In any case, planes are design with blow out panels, there's some speculation as to the exact cause of 243, but nevertheless it had a huge impact on aircraft design and safety.
      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by Lazareth (1756336)

        I'm sorry, but Mythbusters != Science. Mythbusters == staged entertainment.

        • That's true. I would much rather trust the random, uninformed ramblings of someone posting on a website to someone who actually goes out and tries something for themselves (and who also have a team of researchers to help out).

          In this case, what myth that Mythbusters tested was not the same as what happened on Aloha 243 so there really isn't much point arguing about it now.

    • by AHuxley (892839) on Sunday April 10, 2011 @06:23AM (#35772932) Homepage Journal
      Also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Airways_Flight_5390 [wikipedia.org] the left windscreen failed at 17300 feet and the captain was sucked 1/2 out.
    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vesna_Vulovi%C4%87 [wikipedia.org] [wikipedia.org] In 1972 a serbian flight attendant survived a fall from 10,160 meters after the plain exploded mid air. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JAT_Flight_367 [wikipedia.org] [wikipedia.org] She holds the world record, according to the Guinness Book of Records, for surviving the highest fall without a parachute.
    • ... just SOARED (pun not intended but accepted anyway).

      It seems that just because they used a few wrong bolts, that nonetheless looked very similar to the correct ones, that the windshield blew out! I didn't realize an aircraft was built to such safety critical tolerances and that such a simple mistake could lead to a very near fatal accident. To the engineer's credit, this problem seems to be have anticipated, the manual specifically states procedures to prevent this kind of problem.

      Makes me realize that

    • The body of the Aloha flight 243 flight attendant was never found, so the actual cause of death can only be surmised, not proven.

      The way you worded it, merely falling out of the plane was fatal.

      However without a body, there is no way to know if falling out of the plane was fatal, or the fall from altitude was fatal, or finally the presumed splashdown in the ocean, or whether she might have survived all of that only to drown or be eaten by a shark.

      The cause of death cannot be known for sure.

      The only thing re

  • by Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) on Sunday April 10, 2011 @05:30AM (#35772770)

    ....you spend six confusing years on an island with a bunch of strangers and a polar bear.

    Hopefully you adapt quickly and learn to hate flashbacks and flashforwards.

    • by echucker (570962)
      Perhaps not. Wiki article says that aircraft was at 17000' and still climbing. It was not at cruising altitude of 30000'+.
      • by nettdata (88196)

        It's got more to do with the speed of the aircraft than it does the altitude.

        The airspeed across the open/busted window creates a huge pressure differential, basically sucking the contents out of the space (in that instance, the cockpit).

        If you've ever seen the small size of the window in question, and realize that the pilot was sucked halfway out of it, you might understand the level of force we're talking about here.

        • by nettdata (88196) on Sunday April 10, 2011 @07:49AM (#35773096) Homepage

          Just to add to this, and to see the theory at work, you can do this simple exercise (like we did at flight school).

          Open a can of some liquid. Coke, Pepsi, whatever.
          Get a straw, and cut it so that the bottom end can be submerged a bit in the liquid, and the top end is about an inch over the opening in the can.
          Blow across the top of the straw.
          Liquid will come out, even though you're at the same altitude.

          Same concept here, but with 400+ knot windspeed.

      • Perhaps you need to read a little more carefully. The wiki article says approx 10,000 meters which is approx 30,000 feet.
  • by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Sunday April 10, 2011 @05:39AM (#35772796) Homepage

    I'm pretty sure it doesn't count as joining the Mile High Club.

  • by mr100percent (57156) on Sunday April 10, 2011 @05:40AM (#35772804) Homepage Journal

    No No No, you're not sucked out of a plane. Sheesh, is Discovery trying to blatantly go for the lurid headline when their own links on the page to the Mythbusters test show nothing happens?

    All those hollywood movies are peddling falsehood, and it looks like Discovery is doing the same for profit and pageviews. Sheesh.

    • So BA Flight 5980 and Aloha Airlines 243 were made up then?
      • by Jugalator (259273)

        I think the answer is that small holes don't do anything (i.e. don't start sucking loose papers etc towards them), but huge gaping holes in planes might...

        MythBusters tested for bullet-sized holes.

      • Re:No (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mr100percent (57156) on Sunday April 10, 2011 @06:21AM (#35772928) Homepage Journal

        As I said in an earlier post, Aloha Airlines had 20 feet of walls and ceiling suddenly tear off the fuselage. The only death was a flight attendant who was in the aisle at the time, I'm sure the 700 mile an hour wind and immediate turbulence is what made her fall out, not some sudden pressure change of only 8.5psi. Mythbusters tested [kwc.org] it, even detonating explosives on the window in the pressurized plane didn't knock Buster out of his seat.

        Hollywood put this idea in everyone's minds that everyone gets sucked out into space, like Goldfinger, if you shoot out a window on a plane. Just doesn't happen that way.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          While you won't get sucked out of a broken window if there is a large enough tear the resulting forces can lift you off the ground. The first commercial passenger jet, the Comet, discovered this when two of the broke up in mid air. They found that the passengers all died from broken necks rather than from the fall. In tests it was discovered that sudden depressurisation was slamming them up into the ceiling. That is why they tell you to put on your seatbelt - if there was a sudden loss of pressure it would

    • by cpghost (719344)

      No No No, you're not sucked out of a plane.

      Yep! People could be blown out of a plane if they're exposed to a strong wind that pushes them out. The sudden depressurization alone is unlikely generate enough force to accelerate a grown up human body out of the plane.

  • by Pastis (145655) on Sunday April 10, 2011 @05:56AM (#35772864)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Magee
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Chisov

    a bit different (and controversal) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vesna_Vulovi&#263;
  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Sunday April 10, 2011 @06:39AM (#35772958) Journal

    Okay, couple of things going on here. First: The myth busters episode "proofing" you can't be sucked out of aircraft. This was the movie myth that a small hole wouldn't not cause everything inside to be sucked out. HOWEVER, we are not talking about that here, we are talking about a major hole. In the hawaii incident, there was a gigantic hole, the flight attendant was not sucked out movie style but (probably) swept up by the massive wind force that occurs partly simply because aircraft move so fucking fast. Nobody knows how she met her dead. It might be comforting to think she died instantly and without pain... if that helps you sleep at night.

    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.

    Another incident involves an aircraft breaking up in mid air, all died but the family got record damages because experts had shown that they most likely survived the break up and were alive and aware the entire way down. Families were from one of the south american countries, maybe chili if you want to google it (to lazy myself).

    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.

    Same with the being sucked out. There is more then one way, and pressure difference isn't the only one. Air rushing past a hole tends to create a sucking force itself (see how your engine sucks fuel up into the air) and a massive hole would create all kind of secondary forces. According to mythbusters, large buildings don't cause winds to rise to such level that they blow people of their feet because the pressure difference ain't big enough. Well, shucks.

    So basically, discovery claims things contradicted by their own programs. Guess that answers who takes discovery serious, ABSOLUTELY NOBODY.

    • by nadaou (535365)

      > He was SUCKED out and exposed to the cold and lack of
      > oxygen for a long time AND survived.

      um, no. they held on to his legs for the rest of the flight, but it turned out he died a horrible death long before they landed. -40 degree wind blasting at 500 knots for most of an hour will do that to you. wee bit of a wind chill factor on that ride, never mind the fluid dynamics of trying to breath in those conditions.

      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 http://mythbustersresults.com/episode10 [mythbustersresults.com])
      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
    • 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.

  • by Simon Brooke (45012) <stillyet@googlemail.com> on Sunday April 10, 2011 @06:45AM (#35772966) Homepage Journal

    According to several of the police officers and volunteer helpers at the Lockerbie incident (Pan Am flight 103) whom I have personally spoken to, a substantial number of the passengers were not dead when initially found, although none survived. The cockpit came down in a field 150 metres from the house of a friend of mine. In the opinion of those witnesses what killed the passengers was injuries sustained in their impact with the ground, not the fall itself.

    • by advocate_one (662832) on Sunday April 10, 2011 @07:34AM (#35773074)
      I can vouch for this as I was there that night and several days after as one of the search parties tasked with finding and marking the positions of the occupants... not fun at all... very messy.
      • I used to design software for aircraft pressurization systems, so have come across a lot of information about decompression effects et al.

        I was told that wind forces during a fall tend to remove clothing - so that bodies are invariably found in various stages of undress - some completely naked. The victims are unconscious, so take no action to prevent it.

        I always thought that was bizarre (which is probably why it has stuck in my memory). Can you confirm or deny this?

        • it is true... they were in various stages of undress... we came upon a row of victims still strapped in to their seats but all minus their upper clothing...
  • Well, I suppose it depends on what the SNAKES were doing at the time.
  • Assuming that you found yourself sucked out of the cabin intact, perhaps low oxygen would not have to be a problem. It certainly would be if you were stationary at that altitude, but in this case you're falling. The question is, if you were falling face down in a free-fall position (belly to Earth), would the force of the air entering your mouth at terminal velocity (at least 195 km/h) increase the pressure of the air in your lungs enough to compensate for the altitude?

    Remember, it's not the fraction of

    • You've the problem of your mouth and throat instantly icing over at -50c to deal with then. Better to conserve heat and hold your breath until you are a bit lower.

    • by tweak13 (1171627)
      You'd have to be falling pretty close to the speed of sound to get any appreciable compression effect. Air up to Mach 0.3 is usually treated as incompressible. From 0.3 to 0.7 it becomes more significant, but not nearly enough to do something like double in pressure. The only way to really get a "ram air" style pressure increase is with a supersonic flow.

      If my estimations are correct, I highly doubt that at 30,000 feet terminal velocity would be above Mach 0.4. At that speed, pressure increase woul
  • If you watched the movies you'd know it's always the megalomaniac villain that gets sucked out of the airplane, not the hero.

  • ... the air pressure inside inside the plane blows you out of the plane.
    • by Arlet (29997)

      ...and vacuum cleaners don't suck up dirt. The air in the room pushes the dirt into the vacuum cleaner.

  • Back in the early 1900's the papers would quote doctor's who would say that people who fell out of a plane at 5k likely died of a heart attack before hitting the ground. I'm sure it made people feel all warm and fuzzy but it was complete bullshit.

    People jump from planes at 24k ft, 30k isn't that much higher. What would most likely happen is you'd pass out due to lack of oxygen then wake back up when you got to a lower altitude. This happened to a friend of mine on a 24k jump because she donated blood the da

1: No code table for op: ++post

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