9/11 helicopter rescue question?

The possibility of malfunction and resultant entrapment is the big reason you’re not supposed to ride an elevator during a fire evacuation. For any given elevator, entrapment is a rare event; it’s not particularly likely to happen in the first minute after an evacuation is declared, so you will almost certainly have time to get off the 'vator once the alarm sounds.

For those few who were trapped in the WTC elevators because of the aircraft impacts, again, that’s such a rare scenario it’s not possible to justify the expense or the inadvertent risks associated with altering elevator design.

Just for the record, a small number of people did escape from above the fire in the South Tower. This is because one stairwell, Stairwell A, remained passable; those who discovered this, and made it to the bottom before the tower collapsed, survived. In the North Tower, the impact made all the stairwells impassable, and everyone above the fire was doomed.

I don’t know if there has been another case of all stairwells being blocked or destroyed in a skyscraper before, or since.

The WTC complex was given an assload of variances. Spray-on fireproofing, for example. I worked on cleaning that place up, and I’m not critical of it. There’s no accounting for asshole terrorists. Pumping water up to the top of buildings of that size requires tremendous energy, and wasn’t practical at the time of construction (also relevant is NYC’s rapidly-deteriorating water pressure system).

It was a bad day. The architecture held up better than would generally be expected, and most of the occupants survived.

Eighteen people, to be precise. Here’s the account of one of them.

The only way that could have been possible is with two helicopters with a net tied in between them and let the people jump in that net from a specific height. If people can jump to their death, it must be not tough to jump between two helicopters

Zombie thread issues aside, that’s a pretty desperate plan. For starters, you’d need a net big enough to reach between the helicopters with sufficient space in between to prevent the jumpers from becoming chopped liver in the helicopter blades. The net would have to be strong enough to hold quite a lot of people, and the helicopters somehow able to keep from pulling toward one another with the weight of the net and all the people, not to mention dealing with the turbulence of the updrafts.

IANA helicopter expert so I don’t know if such helicopters even exist. If they do, I doubt there are many of them hanging around NYC and certainly they probably don’t have big nets. And of course there are the issues of people missing the nets or landing on other people or having to jump several floors down to the nets and so on and so forth.

Frankly you’d be better off having a big closet full of base jumping equipment on the top floor, and that’s not saying much.

Concur - a net strung between two helocopters is an awful idea. A basket on a single cable beneath each of two single helicopters is better (although probably still not ideal) - the individual capacity is smaller, but operating two helicopters in careful conjunction is going to slow things down enormously.

I also forgot to mention the small matter of large chunks of debris falling off the building while all this is happening, even if the copters could get close enough to the side of the building to make jumping work.

And Frank, I note this is the second thread on the subject you’ve resurrected (the other now being locked). Any particular reason why?

Some of the people whose loss affects me most on 9/11, apart from rescue workers like firefighters, or volunteers like Rick Rescorla, werethe broadcast engineers operating the transmitters on top of the North Tower,struggling to keep their stations on the air.

There was an “idiot proof” parachute released for workers working in tall buildings a few years after 9/11. I wonder what came of it.

That occurred to me too. A basket with an extension to the windows (not connected to them, its dangerous as tower goes down). Or you could cast a rope to the windows and let them slide to the basket.

Remember the debris had not been a threat above the point of impact after a certain time. You could see people clearly waving their hands and clothes. People were stuck above the impact floors and debris was falling downwards. Therefore a helicopter (or a hot air balloon) could probably do this. The smoke was only close to the windows. Just a basket with an extension could save at least half dozen.

That other thread you mentioned was a wrong place where people blamed me for “fake smoke and fake victims and dolls”. I was just curious to mention this as the only exit from the trapped floor was through the windows. Many of the jumpers proved it.

This is what they’re building at the World Trade Center now. Well, a lot of things have been built or are under construction, but that’s the biggest. Anyway I think this sounds like a Wile E. Coyote notion. It’s not like there were any helicopters-with-nets or hot air balloons sitting around waiting for just such an occasion, and even if they could’ve saved people and could have approached the burning building, I am doubtful there was time to make any of it happen. The North Tower was hit at 8:46 and collapsed at 10:28 and the South tower was hit at 9:03 and collapsed at 9:59, and you’ve said yourself that the falling debris would have made that window even smaller (if there was any window at all).

It’s only really hindsight that allows us to say what might have been. If this was an easy, cheap, commonplace problem to solve, we’d be all over it.

But it isn’t. The attributes of these sorts of extreme scenarios are sufficiently variable that any solution might just not be usable next time, or might not be in the right place at the right time. If we had unlimited resources to build a range of different solutions and deploy copies of them everywhere, we could be prepared for everything except the unexpected, but we can’t afford that, and the next event might still include features we can’t possibly anticipate, rendering preparation worthless.

What about individual solutions along these lines? I’m not talking about official rescue organizations, or even corporate-sponsored emergency evac gear, but if an individual person wants to stash something for the “it’s either die here, or try this damned-fool idea” situation, I’d rather have something to try than nothing. Wouldn’t you?

Rescue groups’ efforts would have to be safe (I can’t see encouraging people to jump from way up high into a net of some sort - if anyone misses the net and splats on the ground, you don’t want to be the chief explaining, “Yeah, but look at the ones we did save!” That usually doesn’t go over too well. You also have to control the number of people on the device, to not exceed its load capacity. And so on…

But have people, or do they, stash cables or rappel and fire gear, or some type of hang glider / flying suit, or base jumping gear? If I worked way up high, it’s something worth considering.

If I did have such gear in my office, I wouldn’t tell a soul for fear of ridicule.