Hundreds of millions of people hop on airplanes and fly the friendly skies yearly, and that’s just in America alone. With so many people relying on airplanes, one would assume that knowledge about airplanes would be fairly common. Surprisingly, there are quite a few common myths surrounding airplanes, mainly due to sensationalized news reports and overly dramatic Hollywood movies. I figured that I could help dispel a few of these misconceptions. Hopefully this can help those of you who suffer from aviophobia.
Being Sucked out of the Plane
Many people fear that while flying, a hole of any size in the fuselage will suck everybody out of the plane and spit them out into the sky. This is not necessarily true. While explosive decompression can occur due to a hole in the plane’s body, causing someone to get sucked out of the airplane, the circumstances must be absolutely perfect. Firstly, the hole must be large enough for someone to fit through; secondly, the hole must open up directly next to a passenger; and thirdly, the passenger must not be wearing his or her seatbelt. And while this has happened a handful of times over the course of commercial aviation’s long and storied history, it is not common place. And if a hole does appear in the fuselage, it will not continue to grow as time progresses. If the entire airplane does not fall apart once the hole appears, the airplane will continue to fly as expected.
Oxygen Masks Are a Distraction
Unfortunately, the film Fight Club is the cause for much of these myths. In the film, the main character, Tyler Durden, explains that oxygen masks are merely present in order to get passengers docile and accepting of their fate in the event of an emergency. This is very untrue. Oxygen masks are on airplanes for a very good reason. In the event of an emergency, if the plane loses pressure, passengers are forced to breathe air that is incredibly lacking in oxygen. The oxygen masks then drop down and offer breathable oxygen, so that passengers can breathe normally until the pilots bring the plane down to a more oxygen-rich altitude.
Lightning Will Bring Down a Plane
Lightning can be a beautiful, yet scary reminder of how powerful nature can be. And while lightning is incredibly dangerous to humans themselves, it is typically not so bad for airplanes. Airplanes are designed with any and all possible disasters in mind, including lightning strikes. They also undergo multiple, rigorous tests ensuring that they are safe to take to the skies. When a plane is hit by lightning, it is typically on the nose of the plane or on one of the wings, according to pilot Patrick Smith. And this does no more harm than a small exterior wound or electrical systems issues, but there is no real need for worry. The worst case scenario is having to make an emergency landing at another airport, which has happened before. However, the airplane will not explode or catch fire or simply fall from the sky.