Here is the thing: you’re travelling on a long distance journey on a plane. From your window, you can see tiny little mountains and minuscule towns. You feel safe, staring below from heights that inhibit any sense of danger. As you hear an explosion not far from your seat, you turn your head, afraid that something catastrophic would happen. Seconds after, you’re alone, free falling among thousands of pieces and bodies thrown away by the exploding plane.
You’re 35, 000 feet above the surface of the Earth. You know there are no way you can survive such a fall. Seconds feel like centuries yet you don’t have any memory of what happened just before. Your brain is fussing with alarms and terrific fears. You can almost hear a loud Wa Wa deafening your ears. You see something you can grip on no far from you and grab it, squeezing it with your numb limbs. You can see the Earth getting closer as you reach maximum speed. Closing your eyes, you whisper a few last words that no one will ever hear before making peace with yourself. The impact could be any moment now. Seconds left…
When you open your eyes again, you’re in a white room in what appears to be an hospital. Aren’t you supposed to be dead? Looks like you’re badly hurt, but you’re alive! How is that even possible?
Well, you just made it into one of the most exclusive club of the world: there was more than 15, 000 plan crashes between 1940 and 2008, totalling a little bit less than 120, 000 deaths. Only 157 people made it alive after free falling, with 42 occurring over 10,000 feet (see Vesna Vulovic for something of a miracle). You are a very, very, very lucky person.
Let’s go back a little bit earlier, when you were falling. “Chance favors the prepared mind” to quote Pasteur: even though you’re falling from the sky, you can still take action! The following links will let you know the right steps to prepare your “landing”.
- The Freefall Research Page, a website dedicated to the survivors of parachute-less fall. Several tips and stories, you can learn a lot from them!
- How to Fall 35,000 Feet—And Survive. An article that will teach you what to do in case of free fall.
Once you’ve read it all, you will be prepared for this possibility. Let’s just hope this never happens to you!
About Carlito Riego
"Great perfection may appear imperfect, but its usefulness is inexhaustible. Great abundance may appear empty, but its usefulness cannot be exhausted. Great correctness may appear twisted, great skills appear crude, great eloquence appear awkward. Activity conquers cold; inactivity conquers heat. Clear serenity governs the world." - Lao Zi