Can You Survive a Free-Fall from 30,000 Feet?

According to Popular Mechanics, some people actually have, and so, if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, perhaps you can too. There are at least thirteen “confirmed or plausible” cases of free-fall survival from great heights, one of them being Alan Magee, who was:

. . . blown from his B-17 on a 1943 mission over France. The New Jersey airman, more recently the subject of a MythBusters episode, fell 20,000 feet and crashed into a train station; he was subsequently captured by German troops, who were astonished at his survival.

And so, if you ever find yourself in free-fall, here’s some of what Popular Mechanics suggests that you do:

Keeping your wits about you, you take aim.

But at what? Magee’s landing on the stone floor of that French train station was softened by the skylight he crashed through a moment earlier. Glass hurts, but it gives. So does grass. Haystacks and bushes have cushioned surprised-to-be-alive free-fallers. Trees aren’t bad, though they tend to skewer. Snow? Absolutely. Swamps? With their mucky, plant-covered surface, even more awesome. Hamilton documents one case of a sky diver who, upon total parachute failure, was saved by bouncing off high-tension wires. Contrary to popular belief, water is an awful choice. Like concrete, liquid doesn’t compress. Hitting the ocean is essentially the same as colliding with a sidewalk, Hamilton explains, except that pavement (perhaps unfortunately) won’t “open up and swallow your shattered body.”

For more advice, read the full article here.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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