# Question about falling into water from a great hight

If you fall from 1000 feet into water would you die the same way that you would die from a 200 feet fall?

I know that from 200 feet if you dont land properly then you are likely to be severely injured (if not die) from broken bones and internal organ damage, would this be the same from 1000 feet or would your body fall apart as if you hit concrete? I read an article about a guy that fell into a river from over 1000 feet and they said his “remains” were found. I was under the impression that injury or death by hitting the water from any height would leave your body intact and the damage would be from the inside.

I’m sure some physics-type folks will wander in and start jabbering about terminal velocity, but I can offer this: I think the term ‘remains’ merely refers to the corpse (not that it necessarily was in pieces).
mmm

That’s possible, although they generally say that a body was recovered, they dont say remains. I looked up terminal velocity I’m not really sure what it means, is that the highest speed one would get to?

It’s the balance between gravity and air resistance. If you’re falling in an atmosphere the air causes drag. A human in free fall will reach their ‘maximum’ speed in about 2000ft which is 120mph. You can reach higher speeds but the gain per foot after that is minimal.

I think it came up on this board before a fall onto land from 150ft or a fall into water from 250ft or above have a 95% fatality rate. People have survived mush higher falls but the odds aren’t in your favor. The records all seem to be hitting land, land has soft spots, water is much more constant.

Not sure where the crossover point is from better than landing on solid ground to functionally the same, but the Mythbusters did some falling into water experiments, and the dummy Buster lost legs and maybe arms too, and he had a steel skeleton, so a corpse fallen into water may be a fair bit less than intact when recovered.

Where did you see this? I just looked up mythbusters and I found they dropped a pig from 600 feet onto concrete and did the same with a pig from 600 feet into water. The water damage wasnt nearly as bad and the pig was intact. They also said it reached terminal velocity of 120mph from that height

Where did you see this? I just looked up mythbusters and I found they dropped a pig from 600 feet onto concrete and did the same with a pig from 600 feet into water. The water damage wasnt nearly as bad as the concrete and the pig was intact. They also said it reached terminal velocity of 120mph from that height

Now I get it

Terminal velocity just means that air resistance counteracts you mass and ballistic profile so that you cannot go any faster. In short, jumping from 5,000 feet means that you hit the ground at exactly the same speed as you would at 10,000 feet, 50,000 feet or even jumping out of the atmosphere. You are going to end end falling at roughly 110 - 120 mph no matter what you do once you get closer to the ground and the air gets thicker.

The strange thing is that is plenty to kill most people but not always. There have been plenty of cases where people fell at terminal velocity and not only didn’t die, they didn’t get badly hurt at all. There have been flight attendants blown out of planes at altitude, skydivers whose parachutes failed and lots more.

No one understands it completely and I certainly wouldn’t bet my life on it but it is interesting that there is no height that a human can fall from that is impossible to survive because terminal velocity is the limiting factor for speed. Water won’t help you on its own because it tends to act as a solid when hit at high speeds just because it can’t get out of the way fast enough but even very high speed water crashes are survivable sometimes.

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most popular suicide spots in the world yet there was a 17 year old that decided to jump off of it on a whim and not only lived, but didn’t get hurt very badly at all. It is all about the luck of the landing. Just like severe car crashes, the range of damage ranges greatly.

Did anyone see the recent Scorpion episode where Walter is accidentally launched into space and bails out without a parachute or anything else, and for re-entry he drops right into the Pacific Ocean from a height of 5.5 miles above the ocean, falling roughly 53 meters per second? How do they save him? They tell him to present a surface area as small as possible: arms down at your sides and point your toes! Also they get the Navy to detonate a torpedo under water at a certain depth below Walter’s impact location to fizz up the water and thereby lower its density for a softer impact. Of course they have to calculate the precise position and depth for the explosion and time it down to the millisecond. Walter survives with some bruises. I’ve seen some far-fetched plots on that show, but that one’s a doozy.

The flight attendant that is often referenced is Vesna Vulovic. Technically she wasn’t blown out of the plane. She was inside a piece of the plane as it fell and rode the wreckage down. Still, she fell about 33,000 feet without a parachute, which gets her the world record. Sadly, she just passed away in Dec of 2016.

There were also a few guys who basically got shot out of their bombers in WWII and managed to survive. Bombers back then tended to operate at about 20,000 feet, which is a heck of a distance to fall.

Alan Magee was a B-17 gunner who was thrown from his plane before he could grab his chute. He fell about 22,000 feet and came crashing down through the skylight of the St. Nazair train station. He was pretty badly injured, but survived. There’s some question about whether he hit the roof and bounced through the skylight or if he just went straight down through it. Alan couldn’t tell you one way or the other. He passed out on the way down and was unconscious when he hit. Mythbusters tested the theory that an explosion may have slowed him down and saved his life and found that idea completely busted.

Ivan Chisov bailed out of a Soviet bomber at about 20,000 feet or so. He was certain that he would just be an easy target for a pissed off German pilot if he popped his chute right away, so what he planned on doing was dropping down below the level of the battle and then popping his chute. What he actually did was pass out and never popped his chute. He hit the side of a snowy ravine and bounced and rolled his way to the bottom. He was also badly injured, but survived.

Most amazing was probably Nicholas Alkemade. He was the tail gunner in a British Lancaster bomber. When the order came to bail out, he found that his chute was on fire. Faced with the choice of burning to death in the plane on the way down or jumping to his death without a chute, he chose to jump. He fell about 18,000 feet and landed in fir trees, some bushes, and some light snow. Amazingly, he basically walked away from the fall with just a few scratches and a slightly twisted knee. The German Getapo captured him and almost executed him as a spy since they couldn’t believe that he had fallen that far and basically wasn’t injured from it. They eventually found his plane and what was left of his chute was exactly where he had said it was, and they let him live.

Yeah, definitely luck of the landing. Most of the people who jump off of the Golden Gate Bridge are killed upon impact with the water. The survival rate is pretty low.

On the other hand, the Golden Gate Bridge is about 200 feet above the water, an the world high dive record is currently 193 feet (according to The Google). So it’s definitely about how you land, not how far you fall.

Water is generally a very bad thing to fall into from a great height. Most of the folks who survived great falls landed in snow (Alan Magee being a notable exception). I’m not aware of anyone who has fallen thousands of feet and landed in water and survived.

The arms at the side and point your toes bit is Navy training for how to jump into water from something like the deck of a sinking aircraft carrier or battleship. It’s certainly a better technique than a belly flop, but I doubt that it has a high survival rate for a human body at terminal velocity.

Fizzing up the water is just silly.

(my bolding) Best typo of the week.

There’s bad news and good news.

The 120mph terminal velocity is when you’re in the skydiver spread position. If you align yourself straight up and down you can gain an extra chunk of speed.

That’s the position you need to be in to increase your chances of surviving hitting water.

Oh, well.

Pretty sure this is the one: http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/mythbusters/videos/hammer-jump-minimyth/ Though when they re-edited it for the website they cut out a lot of the background and mishaps.

You mean the way they did it was silly, or the idea that foamy water would help at all is silly? Because I thought the latter was actually a plausible means of decreasing the acceleration you experience by increasing the distance it takes for your speed to get down to zero, since bubbly/foamy water is less dense than regular water.

Without commenting on their means of fizzing up the water or the rest of the plot, it isn’t completely made up. Adding bubbles in the water certainly cushions the impact. Training equipment for ski jumps includes a pool with a bubbler:

High-dive training often uses aerators:

Here’s a video of one in action.

More importantly, water doesn’t compress as such so it won’t “get out of your way” fast enough when you hit it at a high speed in the same way as it does when you dive into it. Turbulent water has air in it, air compresses, and thus improves your chances of surviving. ISTR a worker falling off the Golden Gate (or was it the Brooklyn Bridge?) and surviving because his toolbox hit the water first and disturbed it. So there’s an unspecified degree of merit to the idea.

That said, Scorpion is a stupid show dedicated to stoking the real Walter’s ego, and I wouldn’t trust any science presented thereon as far as I could throw the actual fat, bloated Walter.

(And I see I’ve been ninja’d. Oh well. I typed it; I’ll post it.)

If you’re standing in a pool, try slapping the water as hard as you can with the flat of your hand.(Manual belly-flop) Then try karate chopping it. Big difference.

Water (all liquids) don’t compress significantly. It’s the defining characteristic of a liquid. So when you hit water after a fall, you have to push it out of the way, overcome its inertia. You can’t push it downward, unless the water below it goes somewhere (technically, a pressure wave results). Essentially, the water has to go sideways, and against inertia. Water is pretty heavy. So while the bottom part of your body is trying to push the water out of the way, the rest of your body is still doing 120mph. The result is not that much different than if your body hits a solid surface. If you’ve ever done a belly flop - it hurts.

With a smaller profile, pointed toes, vertical landing, you are moving a lot less water out of the way, and gradually, so you slow more gradually Those stuntmen in movies who fall from 3 or 4 floors up can stop safely in 6 feet of foam. It doesn’t take much “gradually” to turn a fatal impact into a safe one.

Then, angles matter. If you hit the wrong way, you shatter your spine or break your neck, or crack your skull or get a concussion. Those stuntmen always try to flip in midair and land flat on their back. Presumably, falling through a skylight results in a gradual deceleration as the metal supports give way… falling through trees slows you down as each branch absorbs energy while breaking.

Not that it makes it actual science fact (much to contrary), but I’m pretty *XXX *or more likely the sequel did that same trick - except our hero did the fizzing himself with a grenade launcher or something as he jumped off a bridge.

And it is far from the most egregious science nonsense on that show - my current favorite is when they used a shop vac to collect hydrogen sulfide gas and apparently transported ported back inside the shop vac canister.