Surviving a Free Fall Out of a Plane

posted by Stal on 2010.02.02, under Stal

The subject of sky diving, its attendant accident rate and the potential for pranks has been a topic of conversation around these parts, but there hasn’t been much discussion on how to survive a free fall. This Popular Mechanics article guides you to your best chances of survival after a 35,000 foot free fall. At the average adult reading rate of 250 words/minute, you will have just enough time to read the article before impact. Well, so long as you remember to start reading when you wake up at 22,000 feet. Because for the first minute or so, your oxygen-starved brain will cause you to pass out, which may not entirely be a bad thing.

On choosing a target to land on:

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.”

[ How to Fall 35,000 Feet - And Survive / Popular Mechanics ]

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