Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
1:00 AM 20th January 2024

10 Airplane Myths Revealed

Image by JUNO KWON from Pixabay
Image by JUNO KWON from Pixabay
From dumping human waste mid-air, to lightning strikes taking down planes - Travel experts reveal the truth.

Travel tour operator, Ski Vertigo, has debunked the top 10 most common airplane myths. They're setting the record straight on some of the most widespread misconceptions about air travel.

MYTH: The Brace Position is Used to Kill Passengers for Insurance Purposes
This myth is entirely false and baseless. The brace position is a well-established safety protocol, recommended by aviation experts to protect passengers in the event of an impact. It's designed to minimise injury by aligning and shielding the head, neck, and spine, reducing movement during a crash.

MYTH: Planes Dump Human Waste Mid-Air
Contrary to popular belief, planes do not dump human waste in-flight, modern aircraft are equipped with waste storage tanks that are only emptied once the plane has landed. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has made it clear that it's physically impossible for pilots to release these tanks during flight. This ensures environmental responsibility and compliance with strict regulations.

MYTH: Recirculated Air in Planes Spreads Disease
The concern about recirculated air in planes contributing to the spread of disease is largely unfounded. Aircraft utilise advanced air filtration systems, similar to those found in hospitals, capturing between 94 and 99.9% of airborne microbes. The cabin air is also refreshed every few minutes, often making it cleaner than the air found in many other indoor environments.

MYTH: Oxygen Masks on Planes are Decoys
Oxygen masks in airplanes are a critical safety feature. In the rare event of cabin depressurisation, these masks provide vital oxygen to passengers, allowing the aircraft to descend to a safer, breathable altitude. Dismissing them as decoys is not only incorrect but potentially dangerous.

MYTH: Survival Chances in a Plane Crash are Minimal
Despite common fears, the survival rate in plane crashes is remarkably high. The National Transportation Safety Board's data indicates that 95% of passengers involved in accidents on U.S. carriers from 1983 to 2000 survived. This high survival rate is a testament to the stringent safety standards and resilient designs of modern aircraft.

MYTH: Lightning Strikes Will Take Down Airplanes
Airplanes are meticulously engineered to withstand lightning strikes. The aircraft's outer structure, typically made of aluminum, safely conducts the electrical charge without harming the integrity of the plane. Incidents of lightning causing significant damage to an aircraft are extremely rare.

MYTH: Pilots Avoid Flying Over the Bermuda Triangle
The Bermuda Triangle, a region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean, is famous for its myths about mysterious disappearances of ships and aircraft. However, the idea that pilots actively avoid flying over this area is a myth. The Bermuda Triangle is a heavily traveled route for both commercial and private flights, and there is no evidence to suggest that it is more dangerous than any other part of the ocean. Modern aviation does not consider the Bermuda Triangle as a no-fly zone or an area of increased risk.

MYTH: Flying at Night is Safer Than Daytime
Some people believe that flying at night is safer than during the day, but this is not supported by any significant evidence. The safety of a flight depends on numerous factors, including weather conditions, aircraft maintenance, and pilot training, rather than the time of day. Both day and night flights are subject to the same rigorous safety standards and protocols, ensuring passenger safety regardless of the time.

MYTH: You Can Open a Plane Door Mid-flight
Contrary to a popular myth, it is virtually impossible to open a plane door mid-flight at high altitudes. The significant difference in air pressure between the inside and outside of the cabin at cruising altitude, typically above 10,000 feet, makes it physically unfeasible to open the door.

However, at much lower altitudes, such as when a plane is below 1,000 feet during landing or takeoff, the pressure differential is less extreme. In these rare instances, as seen in some viral videos, opening a door might be physically possible, but still extremely difficult and dangerous. This reinforces the safety mechanisms in place during the majority of a flight's duration at high altitudes.

MYTH: Pilots and Co-Pilots Eat the Same Meal
Pilots and co-pilots often eat different meals. This practice is a precautionary measure against food poisoning. By consuming different meals, the risk of both pilots becoming ill simultaneously is significantly reduced, ensuring that at least one pilot is always in good health to fly the plane.

A spokesperson for Ski Vertigo offered insights on these myths:
"Air travel is surrounded by a myriad of myths that can cause unnecessary concern for travelers. Understanding the reality behind these myths is key to a more relaxed and informed flying experience. For instance, knowing that it's impossible to open a plane door midflight can alleviate anxiety for those who worry about such scenarios. Being informed that pilots and co-pilots eating different meals is a safety precaution helps passengers appreciate the extensive safety measures in place.

"Our advice is simple: stay informed and trust in the rigorous safety procedures of modern aviation. Always listen to the safety briefings, no matter how often you've flown, as they are tailored to each aircraft and its safety features. Remember, every flight is a collaboration between highly trained professionals, both on the ground and in the air, working tirelessly to ensure your safety. So next time you fly, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the journey, knowing you're in capable hands."