If you fall from a plane do you die before you hit the ground?

Probably not.

If the plane was high enough, it is conceivable that you could either freeze to death, or asphyxiate in the thin atmosphere.

However, from the cruising altitude of a normal commercial aircraft (around 10km), and for the terminal velocity of a human (~55m/s**), it would only take around 3 minutes to hit the ground.

You’d therefore probably be fine on the oxygen front - the “Death Zone” - where oxygen is too scarce to breath starts - at around 8km, so you’d actually only need to fall about 2km (takes about 30 seconds at terminal velocity) before the air was breathable.

Obviously if you were in something like a U2 spyplane (20km), or Felix Baumgartner’s jump (40km), then oxygen will definitely become a problem - but for your average plane - Oxygen doesn’t matter.

What about temperature?

According to this article here, scientists (or at least, a scientist) approximated that the human body could survive the coldest temperature recorded in Antartica “for about 3 minutes”. That was for a temperature of -93 degrees Celsius (-140 Fahrenheit).

According to this answer here: What is the temperature outside of an airliner at cruising altitude, the temperature at the cruising altitude of jet liners is around -50 degrees celsius.

Therefore, our hypothetical person will easily be able to survive the cold on their descent - remember, they warm up as they fall - so even if it had started at -100 Celsius, they’d probably still survive, as they fell into warmer air.

So our person has enough Oxygen, and they don’t freeze to death.

Therefore, in the absence of anything to kill them, it seems very likely that the ground rushing toward them at 200km/h (130 mph) is going to be the cause of death!

As to when you actually die - it depends on what angle you hit the ground. If you hit head first, then you only need to fall about 10cm to crush your brain into eeny weeny pieces - which will take 0.002" role="presentation">0.002 seconds. If you land feet first, then you need to travel ~1.8m (or the height of your person) to crush the brain into little pieces - which will take 0.03s." role="presentation">0.03s.

Therefore, I conclude that you die somewhere between 0.002 and 0.03 seconds after impacting the ground, unless you are falling from a plane which is at a much higher altitude than your average commercial jet.

**Obviously, I haven’t factored in acceleration time here, for simplicity - however, I also only used the terminal velocity value at sea level - the terminal velocity is higher at high altitudes. To a first approximation, these effects cancel each other out.

This information was taken from Quora. Click here to view the original post.

Do you think anyone is able to survive a plane crush?

#Science #Quora


What are your thoughts on this subject?
AndyUte Byrne
All of this proves the old line that it is not the fall that kills you, it's the sudden stop.
Oct 1, 2018 5:16PM
Bruce Van Kirk
Probably die from a heart attack before hitting the ground
Oct 4, 2018 5:59PM
Melanie Millard Lively Waidler
All I can say is that I don't want to find out.
Mar 30, 2019 6:51AM
Micki Horton
No such place as Antartica, but it's very cold in ANTARCTICA.
Aug 9, 2019 6:20AM
Kenney Devey
They forgot to mention the large stream of BROWN stuff following you.
Sep 21, 2019 9:03PM
And there are documented cases of people surviving falls from planes with no parachutes and surviving. So it's not 100% for sure you'll die. VESNA VULOVIC 1972, was a stewardess on a plane when a bomb went off in the cargo bay and she was blown out at over 33,000 feet, that's over 6 Miles above the ground and survived. She was in a coma for 27 days, multiple broken bones and in the hospital for 16 months but she did survive. Everyone else on board that stayed in the plane died, she was the only survivor. Evidently there are times when it's better to fall by yourself then staying in the plane.
Sep 24, 2021 5:06PM
Kim B Ley, That was funny!
Jun 9, 2022 1:50AM
Kim B Ley
Well that's a cheerful piece of information 😳
Jun 8, 2022 4:21PM
William Mullen Crotty
Not in all cases, Mr.Byrne. Depending on the height you fall from, death could come before you hit that "sudden stop"!
Apr 13, 2022 1:36PM
Janice Turkovich Stewart
I would most likely have a heart attack!
Mar 30, 2022 4:03PM
Sally Onyett
Ilias Tsiabardas, never too old. I did it at 44 yrs. Obviously lived to tell the tale..! 😂😂
Mar 26, 2022 5:13PM
Jim Doyle
Jeez! I feel better already. Didn't need to know this.
Feb 28, 2022 4:27PM
Chris Baz
Unless you pass out, it would be the longest 3 minutes in your life.
Feb 10, 2022 4:32PM
Chris Baz
Irma Rivera, I saw that movie. 👍
Feb 10, 2022 4:31PM
Chris Baz
Kenney Devey, 😂
Feb 10, 2022 4:31PM
Chris Baz
Micki Horton, 😂 good spotting
Feb 10, 2022 4:30PM
Doris Dallaire
I’ve heard of that movie and there’s also a book about her Irma Rivera,
Jan 17, 2022 5:05PM
Irma Rivera
There’s a real story movie the title is “Miracle still happens “ the accident was December 1971 when the plane crashed into the Peruvian forest , Julianne Koepcke still strapped in her seat belt she fell 10,000 ft down and she survived, all the 90 passengers died including her mom, that was December 24 1971 and Julianne was in the forest for 11 days !!! I recommend to watch the movie...
Jan 9, 2022 2:39PM
Chip Combs
Never mentioned going unconscious due to the sudden decompression of the aircraft. Would the unconsciousness last till impact, or not? In either case you'd be naked, stripped by an airstream howling at 600mph. Not my favorite way to go, but maybe better than some.
Nov 12, 2021 9:49PM
Susanna Viljanen
HALO jump.
Nov 12, 2021 6:46PM
Saverio M Rinaldi
I have survived many a fall from 10000ft on several occasions, getting down to 7500 ft is very quick, once the parachute opens it can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes under canopy to land. No worries, if you intend to jump out of a plane pack 2 parachutes. For unplanned exits only 1 is required.
Oct 14, 2021 5:01PM

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