Imagine: you’re flying! But wait, where’s the plane? A wingsuit? Parachute? Anything! Uh-oh, looks like you’re 6 miles high and free-falling! So, is this it or is there a way to hack yourself out of this dire situation?
A person’s chances of survival when falling from a height of 35,000 feet (10,000 m) are slim. Anyway, despite this poor outlook, you still have a glimmer of hope! You’ll be surprised to know that if you were to stumble from the top of a tall building, you’d be in a much worse situation! Actually, there is a book that lists over 200 cases of people falling from a plane without a parachute and living to tell the tale.
TIMESTAMPS: While you’re unconscious...1:12 How long you will fall 2:16 How about becoming a “wreckage rider”? 2:36 Surviving flight attendant's story 3:20 Not water! 4:20 What can soften the blow 5:21 How to direct your fall 5:52 What if you landed in the jungle 7:35
SUMMARY: - Right from the get-go, you’d probably pass out because there’s not much oxygen when you’re 6 miles (10 km) up in the atmosphere. - Earth’s gravity is pulling you down and trying to accelerate you. On the other hand, like any moving object, you’re facing air resistance, which is kind of a drag. - If you were falling from a skyscraper, you’d land with the same force as when you fall from a 6-mile height. But you’d only have 12 seconds to prepare for contact, versus having approximately 3 minutes when falling from a plane. - The first scenario is when you’re free-falling with just yourself and the clothes on your back. The second way is to try and become a “wreckage rider.” - In 1972, Serbian flight attendant Vesna Vulović incidentally broke a world record for surviving the highest fall without a parachute. - In 1943, American military pilot Alan Magee survived a 20,000-foot (6,000 m) absolute free-fall that ended with him crashing through the glass ceiling of the St. Nazaire train station in France. - Not water! When you’re falling at 120 mph (190 kph) from 6 miles (10 km) high, water will feel like concrete. - Look for something that can soften the blow – a snow bank or slope, a haystack, a big tree. Marshland is ideal since it’s soft and swampy. Just watch out for the gators afterward. - Now that you’ve chosen your target, you need to try and direct your fall. To slow down, spread your arms and legs apart (think flying squirrel!), throw your head back, and straighten your shoulders. - You’re not skydiving in this scenario. Just remember that no matter what the surface below is, you need to avoid landing on your head. - If you’re falling with your head down and can do nothing about it, try to land on your face. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s better than hitting the top or back of your skull.