Surviving a plane crash

you have a wingsuit and you know how to use it. at what point do you suit up and try to access the outside of the plane, if that is even possible?

A wing suit wouldn’t help, you need a parachute.

I don’t think either the wing suit or a parachute would fit in the overhead compartment, the way the airlines are nowadays.

I think maybe I will tend to avoid traveling on airlines associated with Muslim countries, and a few others. I’ve been doing that all along anyway.

I suppose if its a hijacking and I get the chance I will use my size and strength to do what I can.

Odds are in such a situation one is dead – its only a matter of time till we die anyway – so would relax and enjoy the flight (maybe down a few).

You’re not getting out of a commercial airliner in mid-flight unless there’s a major structural failure that creates an opening for you to get through.

Even if you could, it wouldn’t be particularly helpful. Since most aviation accidents happen during the takeoff or landing phases (when the airplane is just a few thousand feet above ground), you wouldn’t have much time to effect your egress after deciding “I have to get off of this plane ASAP”. You certainly won’t have enough time to put your wingsuit on and make your way to an exit with enough altitude remaining to do any useful maneuvering.

Moreover, a wingsuit won’t do you much good by itself. You’ll still be cruising along at ~70-80 MPH with a substantial descent angle. If you want a non-lethal touchdown, you’re going to need a parachute. Wingsuit users always have one with them. A wingsuit PLUS a parachute is probably going to exceed carryon size limits (not that that stops anyone these days…). If you have to choose, bring just the parachute.

i thought parachutes nowadays are the size of backpacks, and wingsuits smaller still. Hollywood says you can access the cargo hold and somehow reach the floor panel near the landing gear. not true i suppose?

If your plane is flying slow and level, at a low enough altitude that you can open any hatch to the outside, with enough warning time to prepare for and make the parachute attempt, … you’d need a Hollywood plot to make you want or need to leave the plane in the first place.

In other words, the only time you could successfully deploy a parachute or wingsuit you’d have to be in a plane that wasn’t in danger of crashing. It would need to be flying low, slow, steady, and level, not likely a crash situation.

This is why you should already be wearing your wingsuit when you board the plane. When the plane begins to disintegrate, you slip on your carry-on parachute, and you’re all set.

If you get in the habit of always wearing your wingsuit, you won’t have to worry about being trapped at the top of one of those fancy sky-scrapers, either.

Modern parachutes are small enough to fit in an overhead compartment- I’ve taken mine aboard an airliner as carry-on luggage before. A wingsuit isn’t going to help you much.

For that matter, a parachute isn’t going to help you much. As Machine Elf said:

If that happens, the plane is probably spiraling towards the ground. You’re either bouncing around the cabin or pinned to the side of the plane, unable to move (assuming you’re conscious). You won’t be able to reach your parachute, put it on and get clear of the plane.

Agreed with the above. It’s not possible for a passenger to exit the aircraft in flight, and the idea that you could realize the plane is crashing and then don your equipment is very unrealistic.

If you knew in advance the plane was not going to make it to the runway (like if it was out of fuel and there was no safe landing place in range) and you were in some kind of cargo aircraft like a C-130, you could parachute out the back.

There have been people who have been sucked out of a plane during an explosive decompression (Aloha Airlines Flight 243), but only because she was not seated and belted at the time. If you saw the ceiling cracking and had a choice between escaping via wingsuit and just tightening your seatbelt, the seatbelt would be the better idea.

Of course, most large aircraft fly over 30,000 feet, so you would need supplemental oxygen:

And in any event, a wingsuit would never be preferable over a parachute. Certainly better than smacking into the ground, but you would probably not walk away from it.

It’s been almost 20 years since I did a static-line skydive, but from what I remember, you don’t just “slip on” an parachute. Putting one on requires a couple of minutes and a little bit of space in which to do it. There are shoulder straps that need to be snugged up once it’s on your back, a chest strap that fastens both shoulder straps together, and two leg straps that need to be fastened and cinched up.

As has been noted, this will be difficult to do unless the plane is flying smoothly and everyone else is staying in their seats.

ok, so we wear a wingsuit beforehand and the ceiling cracks. are you really better off in your seat when the plane is coming apart?

Yes. In the example I cited, the one woman who got sucked out was the only person who died. Everyone else survived and the plane landed as normal. If you Google it, you’ll see an astonishingly large chunk of plane is missing and the thing kept flying.

Now, if the roof tears off and THEN the plane starts to nose-dive, I’d think about jumping out.

Forget the wingsuit. It won’t help you. For it to work you need airspeed and for that you need to be in freefall, clear of the wreckage. A wingsuit is controllable with a normal, stable exit. You won’t have that if the plane is breaking up. The wing material will catch air and flip you around. For an uncontrolled exit (that is, from a plane that is breaking up) you’re better off without all that extra material between your arms and legs.

Even if you were wearing a parachute while in your seat, you’re better off staying with the plane until it actually breaks up. If the ceiling cracks, you’re staying with the plane. You won’t be able to get to an emergency exit, open it and jump out. I’m quoting Machine Elf again, but “You’re not getting out of a commercial airliner in mid-flight unless there’s a major structural failure that creates an opening for you to get through.”

So clearly the answer is to throw the parachute out the hole in the plane and then jump out after it, putting it on in freefall where you have plenty of room and no interruptions. I’m pretty sure I saw that in a documentary about some guy named Bond.

Since most commercial airliner accidents happen during takeoff/landing, when the plane is just a few thousand feet above ground, you won’t have much time to catch your parachute and put it on. In a freefall starting from 2500 feet (which is already right around the minimum recommended deployment altitude for a typical parachute), you’ll hit the ground in about 18 seconds.

Note also that if you try to bail out of an airliner during the cruise phase, when it’s traveling at 500+ MPH, you’re likely to sustain severe windblast injuries. Flailing limbs will result in broken bones and hyperextended joints, that sort of thing. You may not be in any condition to put on (or deploy) a parachute.

Takeoff/landing accidents mostly don’t happen at a few thousand feet - they pretty much happen in contact with the ground.


The point at which you realize “oh shit, this plane’s gonna crash and I better get out right now” is generally not more than a few thousand feet above ground.

izzat better?

In reality your parachute will be checked in at loading and you will see it flying by with the rest of the carry on baggage as you plummet to the ground clutching onto your laptop bag.

so you’re saying there’s a chance i could reach the parachute?