From holes in the fuselage to recycled air to where human waste goes; the miracle of flight has long been a wild source of outlandish ‘facts’ that feed into the fears and phobias about flying.
The real deal is that many of these ‘facts’ are completely untrue and are often based on misinformation represented in film.
A case in point, according to Brad Pitt’s character in Fight Club, the airplane oxygen masks will “get you high”. Untrue.
This ‘fact’ has been debunked by pilot and author of Cockpit Confidential, Patrick Smith, who says the only effect the oxygen masks have is to allow you to breathe normally until the plane can descend to 10,000 feet where the air is safer to breathe again.
That said, if you are a fan of disaster movies and television shows, then you can be forgiven in thinking that a lot can go wrong on an airplane.
Here are five other “facts” about flying that are bunk:
Any hole in an aircraft will tear open a plane
Sure, if you’re on the set of the James Bond classic, Goldfinger. Indeed, all Bond had to do was shoot a hole in the plane’s fuselage, which sucked the super-villain out into the sky.
Whilst a breach in cabin pressure does create a vacuum in a plane, it does not break a plane apart. In 2006, an Alaska Airlines aircraft did not crash after a hole the size of a foot breached its hull. In fact, Smith said “once the cabin pressure had escaped, it could be reasonably assumed that the plane was going to stay in one solid piece and fly just fine. Which it did.”
Recirculated air in planes spread disease
On the contrary, plane air is less polluted and less germ ridden than regular crowded environments because the air is a combination of fresh and recycled oxygen. The reason why planes recirculate air is to help regulate the temperature at altitude and to maintain humidity.
Planes dump human waste into the air
We all know this “fact” and there have even been several instances where civilians have insisted that plane waste had been expelled from the sky. However, the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States dispelled this “fact” as myth by simply stating that: “It’s physically impossible for a pilot to dump a tank while in flight.” Planes just can’t do that.
Flying is expensive
According to Smith, flights have never been more affordable. Even during the dark days of the GFC between 2008 and 2010, the average economy air fare was at an all-time low, despite the exorbitant fuel prices.
You are likely to die in a plane crash
Bunk. According to the National Safety Council, your chances of an untimely demise in a plane crash are literally about 7,229 to one. On the flipside, the odds of being killed in a car accident are roughly one in 108; as a pedestrian, one in 749; and as a cyclist, one in 4,982. The fact is, airline travel is the safest form of transport in the world, largely due to the extremely high standards in flight safety regulations.