By Gaby Pilson
Let’s be honest with ourselves here: flying around in an airplane is insanely cool. Regardless of how much you fly, however, unless you’re a pilot or work in the aviation industry, you’ve probably heard some crazy airplane facts that have made you stop and go: What? No way! That can’t be true!
Since there are so many myths and mysteries surrounding airplanes, it’s difficult to figure out what’s true and what’s pure fantasy. So, here are some of our favorite true airplane facts that will blow your mind.
1. You Can’t Open an Aircraft Door During a Flight
Contrary to popular belief, you can’t actually open a commercial jet’s door in the middle of a flight. In fact, you can only open a cabin door when the pressure both inside and outside the plane is roughly equal.
When you’re at cruising altitude, the aircraft cabin is pressurized to about 10,000 feet, which is as much as 20,000 feet lower than your actual elevation. This huge difference in pressure is literally too much to overcome for any human, so it’s physically impossible to open that cabin door mid-flight. Once the plane is back on the ground, however, the pressure difference is negligible and the cabin crew can open the aircraft doors.
2. Your Smartphone Doesn’t Interfere with an Aircraft’s Navigation
Have you ever wondered why you switch your phone to airplane mode at the beginning of a flight? It’s not because your phone signals interfere with the plane’s navigation equipment. In fact, we’re asked to put our devices down for take-off and landing because the cabin crew wants us to pay attention to their safety demonstration. Plus, take-off and landing are the riskiest part of any flight, so putting our devices down helps us respond better to an emergency. Who knew?
3. Aircraft Cabin Air Doesn’t Make You Sick
While most people think that airplane cabin air is full of germs, it turns out that cabin air is changed once every three minutes. The air in your aircraft cabin is filtered through hospital-grade machinery that removes 95 percent of bacteria, so it’s not the cabin air making you ill after all that traveling. In fact, poor hygiene practices from your fellow travelers is probably the culprit.
4. Planes Get Struck by Lightning all the Time
Lightning can be terrifying enough when you’re on the ground, but what if you got struck by lightning in midair? Apparently, this happens all the time. Modern aircraft are actually designed to get hit by lightning with no lasting damage. Often, cabin crew and passengers don’t even realize the plane just got struck by lightning!
5. Turbulence Doesn’t Cause Plane Crashes
Turbulence is simply a sudden and violent uplift of air in the atmosphere. While it can seem terrifying mid-flight, modern planes are designed to re-right themselves automatically. Thus, turbulence doesn’t cause plane crashes; rather, pilot error is most often to blame. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the bumpy ride.