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    Could You Survive Being Sucked Out of a Plane? This is How

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    It’s the stuff of nightmares – being fast asleep in your airplane seat 30,000 feet in the air, when suddenly you hear a loud crack and feel the air getting sucked out of the cabin. You jolt awake to see the emergency exit blown wide open, debris and luggage flying everywhere as the plane rapidly depressurizes. Your ears pop painfully, oxygen masks drop from the ceiling but it’s too late – the suction is too strong. Before you know it, you’re being dragged out of your seat by an invisible force, hurtling through the open doorframe and into the open sky. As the plane rapidly recedes into the distance, you ponder – is this the end? Or is there a chance, however slim, that you might survive the fall? Let’s dig into what science and past events can tell us about possibly surviving such an ordeal.

    The Science of Falling from High Altitudes

    • The terminal velocity of an average human body in a head-down, stable free-fall position is around 120-125 mph
    • At that speed, impact with water from high altitude is similar to hitting concrete – the water surface tension is like a solid surface at terminal velocity
    • However, if able to achieve a spread-eagle body position, drag is increased significantly and terminal velocity decreases to a survivable 50-60 mph
    • Atmospheric pressure and oxygen levels decrease rapidly with increased altitude – hypoxia sets in even before reaching terminal velocity
    • Survival chances are negligible from over 20,000 feet without supplemental oxygen due to hypoxia and impact forces
    Plane crash

    Surviving Plane Depressurization: Case Studies

    There have been a handful of cases where people survived aircraft depressurization or being forcibly ejected from planes. Here are a few examples that provide glimmers of hope:

    • 1965, Nevada – A US Air Force bomber lost pressurization at 40,000 ft. 2 crew members were blown out and fell for 15 minutes with only minor injuries. They stabilized body positions prior to exiting.
    • 1972, Colorado – A commercial jet lost a cargo door at 22,000 ft. Flight attendant Betty Ong was blown out but grabbed the edge of the door frame and hung on, surviving despite a broken arm.
    • 1975, Australia – A light aircraft lost a door at 18,000 ft. Passenger Neville Bartholemew fell out and deployed a ram-air parachute he had brought, landing safely.
    • 2007, Florida – A small jet lost pressurization at 24,000 ft. Pilot Philip Birtles was sucked out but conscious and deployed an oxygen bag he was trained to use, drifting down over 1 hour to safety.
    Plane wing

    Lessons from History: The Bermuda Triangle

    While the Bermuda Triangle’s many alleged mysteries have often been dismissed by skeptics, there are some sobering lessons that can be gleaned from history in this region between Florida, Bermuda and Puerto Rico:

    • Surface currents are strong and variable which could impact search and rescue efforts
    • Sudden thunderstorms and waterspouts are more common, posing additional risks to aircraft and vessels
    • Compass malfunctions have been reported due to unusual magnetic mineral deposits underwater
    • Methane gas eruptions are possible from undersea fault lines, potentially causing explosions that sink ships

    In Wrap: Increasing Your Odds of Survival

    While the chances are very slim, there may be some actions you can take to stack the odds in your favor if ever in this unfortunate situation:

    • Remain conscious and stabilize body position to achieve a spread-eagle orientation for descent
    • Consider an emergency oxygen supply or portable parachute if venturing into remote high altitude areas
    • Be especially cautious of flying or boating in active storm regions like the Bermuda Triangle
    • Don’t panic – try to estimate wind speed/direction and use currents to your advantage if in water
    • Hope and pray rescuers can find you swiftly if survival is achieved upon water impact

    So in sum, having situational awareness, planning ahead, and utilizing any training could potentially save your life – if you ever experience the horrors of being sucked from an aircraft at altitude. But hopefully it remains only an adverse thought experiment!

    Also read – IS TIME TRAVEL POSSIBLE? EXPLORING THE FASCINATING WORLD

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