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Here’s What Would Happen If the Plane Door Opened Mid-Flight

Reader's Digest logo Reader's Digest 21-08-2017 Juliana LaBianca
© Mikhail St/Shutterstock

Delayed flights, crying babies, and cramped seats can make even the sanest flier want to jump ship. But what would happen if they made it to the door and—gasp—opened it? They wouldn’t get too far, writes pilot Patrick Smith on his blog Ask the Pilot.

“You cannot—repeat, cannot—open the doors or emergency hatches of an airplane in flight,” he writes. “At a typical cruising altitude, up to eight pounds of pressure are pushing against every square inch of interior fuselage. That’s over 1,100 pounds against each square foot of door.” Further, the door is held shut by a “series of electrical and/or mechanical latches.”

OK, so that qualms our fears of a manic passenger making a break for it. But let’s say someone’s brought their hydraulic jack on board and is able to open the door. What would happen then?

“Anyone standing near the exit would be ejected into the sky,” Smith told the Telegraph. “The cabin temperature would quickly plummet to frostbite-inducing levels, and the plane itself might even begin to break apart.”

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In that case, you’d have about 15 to 20 seconds of consciousness to pull on your oxygen mask. The pilot would likely take the plane down to 10,000 feet—an altitude where most healthy people would be able to breathe—and make an emergency landing.

Still feeling anxious over an upcoming flight? These facts about flying will help you stay calm on your next trip—and hopefully keep you well away from the door.

Related video: How To Look And Feel Your Best During A Long-Haul Flight (Provided by Wochit News)

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