Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Free Fallin'

Many people have been blogging about this lately, but you may have missed it. Trying to figure out how to survive a fall from an airplane is something I think about occasionally, and this article provided lots of useful tips. E.g.:
Snow is good—soft, deep, drifted snow. Snow is lovely. Remember that you are the pilot and your body is the aircraft. By tilting forward and putting your hands at your side, you can modify your pitch and make progress not just vertically but horizontally as well. As you go down 15,000 feet, you can also go sideways two-thirds of that distance—that's two miles! Choose your landing zone. You be the boss.

If your search discloses no trees or snow, the parachutist's "five-point landing" is useful to remember even in the absence of a parachute. Meet the ground with your feet together, and fall sideways in such a way that five parts of your body successively absorb the shock, equally and in this order: feet, calf, thigh, buttock, and shoulder. 120 divided by 5 = 24. Not bad! 24 mph is only a bit faster than the speed at which experienced parachutists land. There will be some bruising and breakage but no loss of consciousness to delay your press conference. Just be sure to apportion the 120-mph blow in equal fifths. Concentrate!
Why do I think about this sort of thing? Chances are so slim that something like this would happen to me that I can practically discount it to zero; I would really do much better to maximize my safety by mastering the mosquito swat than learning how to survive a 7-mile fall. But where's the excitement in that?


Peter said...

I think about this sometimes too, although I have never done research on the subject. I guess that if one does the 5-point landing correctly, then one is almost certain to live.

Chick in the Czech said...

You are insane.

Mom said...

I am guessing there aren't really other people blogging about this topic, are there? Although it reminds me again that you would enjoy the two Freakonomics books which mention, among other very interesting topics, that people worry about things that are unlikely to happen and forget to worry about things that are more likely.

David said...

Actually, I came across this article on no less than three blogs that I read!