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Ridiculous falling out of an airplane scenario

  1. Jun 14, 2010 #1
    Hi guys,

    In light of my upcoming flight to a tropical island, I would like to ask about a scenario that I've wondered about for ages.

    >>>NOTE: It's really ridiculous<<<<

    Okay, let's say the plane falls apart at an altitude of 30,000 feet and you are in free fall...

    Let's say that you were clutching a few cheap airplane blankets and decided to fold over the ends (corners) to make a mini-parachute like structure. Then you take you pants off (bear with me) and you open the waist side downward to form another parachute like structure and did the same with your shirt.

    Assuming you manage to accomplish this feat in free fall, would you be able to generate enough drag to prevent a gruesome death when you finally hit the ground? How much drag would be necessary to save you?

    Last edited: Jun 14, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 14, 2010 #2
    By a process of deductive elimination it is not possible to do this. If it were, it would presently be a thrillseeking sport.
  4. Jun 15, 2010 #3
    The first question to ask is what speed can a human survive from? What is the highest you could fall and probably survive? 2 or 3 stories? I have no idea. Find out what speed that would be, and I think you would see you need alot more drag than a pair of pants and blanket. (but you would really need to know the drag of the pants to be sure - sounds like a myth-busters episode, pants in a wind tunnel. You should write them.)
  5. Jun 15, 2010 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    How do you take your pants off while you are clutching the blankets?
  6. Jun 15, 2010 #5
    The trick is to take the pants off first with one hand, and clutch the blankets with the other :cool:!
  7. Jun 15, 2010 #6
    The most crucial factor is what you land on. even without the makeshift parachute, it would be possible to fall as slowly as 100mph. I would imagine that your macgayver style parachute could at least cut that in half. at only 50mph your chances look alot better, however it's still about how you land, and what you land on. i would not recommend trying this. people have been known to survive freefall from obscene heights, however it's a pretty safe bet that you wouldnt be able to get up and walk away.
  8. Jun 15, 2010 #7
    Nope from 30000 feet you'd be dead from sheer terror, thats how people apparently go. It post mortems it seems they tend to suffer from a huge heart attack. NOTE: A fall from 30,000 feet would likely render you unconscious anyway, the cold and lack of oxygen will knock you out pretty quickly.

    Assuming however you were some kind of steel hearted man who doesn't require oxygen to respire, who kept his wits about him long enough to remove his trousers whilst plummeting to the ground I doubt it'd be enough to save you.

    What matters most in this is 1: being relaxed (a floppy body will tend to prevent internal injury) 2: landing on something soft (this is highly important, try to aim for a pillow factory with no roof)
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2010
  9. Jun 15, 2010 #8
    And landing on a slope can have a huge impact on your chances of survival.
  10. Jun 15, 2010 #9
    Definately. In "assault on the control tower" the Master Chief can only survive jumping off the long bridge by hitting the sloping canyon walls just right on the way down.
  11. Jun 15, 2010 #10


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    Hold the blankets under one arm, unfasten your pants with the other, turn upside down and let the wind to the work. Just don't let go of your pants!
  12. Jun 16, 2010 #11
    Also at 30,000 feet in the thin air your terminal fall velocity is substantially higher than at low altitudes, which would give unexpected side effects, when wrestling with garments. Main parachute deployment from jet ejection seat gear for instance is normally delayed until reaching 15,000 feet for that reason.

    Also, you'd have to hold the fabric at at least three points to form some sort of canopy shape. A third hand?
  13. Jun 16, 2010 #12
    Tie it to your whatsit, although that could be difficult considering the size effects of -50C.
  14. Jun 16, 2010 #13

    Ranger Mike

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    as a former paratrooper I can tell you that you will reach terminal velocity of 120 mph and that is the speed you will impact the earth...my company commander has a partial malfunction on a jump one day...he managed to shake out the parachute to deploy 20 percent open..it had enough air drag to slow him up..he hit the drop zone..sand..and was in hospital for 6 months..if you are not unconscious due to oxygen depravation ( our HALO teams need oxygen at 25000 feet jumps) and don't freeze, you may survive by deploying something to increase air drag and reduce your impact speed...one sky diver had a total malfunction and lived after impact but totally busted up...
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