How to survive falling from a plane

Published on November 14th, 2011
How to survive falling from a plane

We sincerely hope you will never have to make use of the following tips. Unless you are Tom Cruise or Bruce Willis and you make a living out of falling out of airplanes, you may want to listen up…

So, you’re plummeting to earth at a considerable speed, and you could probably use a bit of good news right now. Here goes…

Thanks to wind resistance, your falling speed will top out at a dawdling 190km/ph, depending on your size and weight, and local air density. So assuming that the freezing cold and lack of oxygen don’t kill you mid-fall, here are four simple steps you can try to soften your landing:

1. Don’t panic. Easier said than done, we know, but passing out is not an option.

2. Adjust your posture into something resembling a skydiver’s flying squirrel pose. Make a flying X with your arms and legs, keep your chest down and arch your back and neck.

3. Aim. Avoid hard surfaces. Shoot for something with a bit of give, but don’t be fooled by water: It’s incompressible and, as any water skier will tell you, striking it at high speed resembles picking a fight with a sidewalk.  Target something like haystacks, bushes, marches. At this point you should be looking out for haystacks, bushes, snow drifts and marshes Trees and glass might stab you, but they’ve saved free-fallers before.

4. Select a landing position. Headfirst isn’t such a wise idea. Landing flat will distribute the force of impact across your body, while skydivers opt to land with their feet together, heels up, and knees and hips flexed.

If you must splash down in water, you’ll want to dive either head-first or feet-first. Regardless of which you choose, hold your body straight and keep your arms beside your head for protection. If you go in feet-first, remember to clench your — um, gluteus muscles.