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.”
Feeling uneasy in an age of economic turmoil? Want to prepare for the coming zombie invasion? Ponzi scheme has unraveled and you need to evade the Feds? Kevin Reeve, a professional scout and tracker, runs OnPoint Tactical, the only school in the nation that teaches urban tactical skills. Though takers had been few and far between, in recent months interest in the program has surged. For $550, you can sign up for an escape-and-evade class, which will teach you useful things as follows:
Among the lessons we’ve learned are how to break through zip ties and telephone cords (the most common materials used as binding by kidnappers), smash a car window without making a sound, pick tumbler- and padlocks, puncture the tires of a pursuit vehicle with homemade caltrops, call for help using a ham radio, kill an attack dog—and, of course, how to escape from handcuffs.
For some hands-on practical training, you are then dropped off and told to evade 12 professionally trained trackers while staying in a 25-block area for eight hours.
At the end of the final day, after my cohorts and I had successfully evaded Reeve’s trackers, we convened at a Chili’s Bar & Grill and swapped stories with the other students. None of them had been “caught,” either, but many of them had been spotted by Reeve and his trackers and had run for it. Some went deep into disguise; the most shocking of all was Kyle cutting off at least 24 inches of dreads for the exercise.