Feb 8, 2010

How to Survive a 35,000-Foot Fall - Plane Crash Survival Guide - Popular Mechanics

This article is a must read for anyone who travels 35,000 feet in the air. I especially liked Dan Koeoppel's sense of humor. If you don't have time to read the article, or if you need the abridged version, here are some brief factoids gleaned from the article:


  • You are more liable to survive a 35,000 foot free-fall by landing in a haystack, snow, or a swamp!
  • Landing in water, contrary to popular belief, is just as hard as landing on concrete (water does not compress): SPLAT!
  • At six miles up, a free fall will take three minutes and twenty-five seconds. So, you have some time to contemplate your condition (at a terminal velocity of about 120 mph).
  • For two minutes you'll be unconscious due to lack of oxygen. Hypoxia will settle in and you will lose your breath until you reach breathable air at about 10,000 feet.
  • If you land on your face, you're more likely to survive (albeit in the need of a face lift) than landing on top of your head or the side of your head).
  • Children, military personnel, and crew members are more likely to survive a plummet than anyone else.
  • "Surviving a plunge surrounded by a semiprotective cocoon of debris is more common than surviving a pure free-fall"
  • "118,934 people have died in 15,463 plane crashes between 1940 and 2008."
  • 157 folks have reportedly survived a free fall, "with 42 occurring at heights over 10,000 feet"
Koeppel, David. "How to Fall 35,000 Feet—And Survive." Popular Mechanics Feb. 2010: n. pag. Web. 8 Feb 2010.

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