AMAZINGLY…passengers on the April 13th Lion Air flight that crashed off the coast of Bali said the crash wasn’t even the worst part of this awful flight. Adding, worse than the crash was the inflight movie: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.
Thankfully, all 108 people on board the flight survived. And surviving an airplane disaster isn’t unlikely, despite your contrary intuition. In fact, according to the NTSB, the likelihood of survival is above 95% (based on its study of crashes between 1983 & 2000)
AROUND THE WORLD… there have been 14 ditchings of passenger jets since 1952. (A “ditching” is a controlled decent into water, as opposed to a “crash.”) There were 834 people on board those 14 flights. 573 of those people survived. Of those that died, most died on impact. However, many impact survivors later died in the water from hypothermia.
In 2005, Tuninter Flight 1153 crashed 18 miles off the coast of Sicily. There were 35 passengers on board, 15 died on impact. 20 survivors languished in the ocean for 46 minutes before rescue. The water that day in the Mediterranean was in the 70s. The water off the coast of Bali on April 13th, was equally balmy. So, the threat of hypothermia was very low.
HOWEVER… The temperature in the Hudson River on January 15th, 2009 wasn’t as pleasant. That’s the day the passengers on US Air Flight 1549 ended up in 41 degree water a few minutes after take-off.
So: to find out how quickly a person would succumb to the affects of hypothermia in 41 degree water, we conducted an experiment under the careful supervision of the head of Thoracic surgery from Cedars Sinai hospital.
All we needed – after that – was someone to volunteer to get into the ice bath. To see the experiment, learn about the progressive debilitation caused by exposure to frigid water and find out who nearly froze to death, watch the video below.
Jon Hotchkiss is the creator, EP, Director & Writer of This vs That. He also created: The Truth About Sex (Playboy TV), Invasion of the X-Mas Lights (TLC), My Dad is Better Than Your Dad (NBC), and Punkin Chunkin (Science). Jon also ran the series Bullshit with Penn & Teller and was one of the original writers on Politically Incorrect. You can reach him here.
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