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
Micki Horton
No such place as Antartica, but it's very cold in ANTARCTICA.
Aug 9, 2019 6:20AM
Melanie Millard Lively Waidler
All I can say is that I don't want to find out.
Mar 30, 2019 6:51AM
Louis Michael Durocher,
I heard about à pilot of à small aicraft that survivent a fall of 13000 feet,he landed in a marsh,unfortunately, for the poor man,crocodiles got to him before the rescuers...
Aug 8, 2019 12:43PM
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
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
Bob Rodger
I've survived many an orange crush, but never have had the opportunity to survive a plane crush. Does anyone there ever proof read?
Sep 22, 2021 6:38AM
Ilias Tsiabardas
I am not planning to jump from an Airplane at my age
Sep 21, 2021 10:47PM
Barry Crews
Bruce Van Kirk, you would hope so!
Sep 3, 2021 5:12PM
Brenda Maltz
Should have worn his seat belt.
Feb 2, 2021 11:31PM
Sep 22, 2020 5:24PM
I've heard that you are likely to die of a heart attack before impact.
Apr 20, 2020 3:34AM
Kenney Devey
They forgot to mention the large stream of BROWN stuff following you.
Sep 21, 2019 9:03PM
When you stop on a dime. That's all folks!
Jun 1, 2019 6:40PM
I have heard that if you land in water from high altitude with no parachute, the water would be hard as well, unless it has a lot of wave action.
Mar 24, 2019 4:55PM
Evelyn Baker
I had heard that you faint before hitting because the brain can't handle the trauma of the fall. I like to think so anyway.
Mar 12, 2019 6:45PM

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