We all have seen those “YOLO” selfies taken by “pilots” out of flying airplanes. And while the idea seems awesome, a person even with the slightest of common sense would know that this is probably fake. But why is it so? Why can’t a person stick his head out of a flying airplane? Let’s find out!
- Pressure. The average altitude of most of the airlines is around 35,000 feet. From high school science class we know that as the altitude increases, the atmospheric pressure decreases, along with having lesser and lesser amount of oxygen to breath. This is the reason why the plane cabin is pressurized from inside to simulate a lower altitude inside the cabin. It would be nearly impossible for a person to breath at that altitude and he would certainly pass out within minutes.
- Temperature. At 35,000 feet (11,000 m), the air pressure drops to less one-fourth of its value at sea level. And since pressure and temperature are connected, the temperature also drops below negative 60 degrees Fahrenheit (negative 51 degrees Celsius), which is obviously too much for a person to withstand for long periods of time.
- Speed. Cruising air speed for long-distance commercial planes is around 475–500 knots (878–926 km/h; 546–575 mph). You struggle to keep your hand in one place when you stick it out of a speeding car. Imagine holding a camera at this speed.
But just in case you still have doubts on theory, there has been an instance where the window of the cockpit actually broke due to faulty bolting and the pilot got sucked out of the window. Luckily the flight attendant was quick enough to grab the pilot from his legs, and the co-pilot managed to make an emergency landing pretty soon. But the pressure was such that the attendant could not drag the pilot back in. And after the landing, it was found that the pilot had frostbite along with suffering from many fractures.
So next time you see a selfie of a pilot in a commercial plane, you’ll know that it’s nothing more than cool skills with Photoshop. Or in some cases, not so cool, as in the picture below where the hangar’s reflection can be seen in the fuselage.