The irony that I am a travel writer and yet one of my main fears is flying is not lost on me. Adopting the ‘just get on with it’ attitude, you would think that I may at least avoid scaring myself any further. However, I constantly find myself transfixed by Air Crash Investigations, or reading things I know I really shouldn’t be.
The most recent example was an article about what happens if you die on a plane. I read it right before a return flight to Sydney and my journey back to London – not the best timing. Here are 10 facts that you probably didn’t know about flying – beware though, they’re not for the faint-hearted.
1. According to an experienced pilot: “landings are nothing more than controlled crashes”.
2. Most domestic flights are carrying human organs.
3. On hot days planes have a hard time flying, struggling to take off in the thin air.
4. Pilots are served different meals that cannot be shared. This is in case of food poisoning – never mind the rest of us!
5. Oxygen masks only have approximately 15 minutes of oxygen in them from the time that they’re pulled down. Thankfully, this is long enough for the pilot to get the plane to a lower altitude where you can breathe normally.
6. Toilets unlock from the outside – the lock mechanism is hidden behind the ‘no smoking’ sign.
7. Mobile phones are more of an annoyance for pilots than anything else. As anyone who’s ever accidentally left their phone on clearly knows, they won’t bring a plane down.
8. Approximately half of pilots sleep while flying and a third of the time they wake up to find their partner asleep.
9. The blankets, pillows and headphones are all recycled and repackaged. If you thought they, or your tray table for that matter, were clean – think again.
10. The ports for purging the lavatory and refilling the plane with drinkable water are quite close and occasionally serviced at the same time. Moral of the story? Don’t drink anything but bottled or boiled water.
And as for what happens if you die on a plane? On long haul flights there after often body bags available, with some planes even having cupboards made intentionally for storing dead bodies. Failing all else you’d be moved to the most private seat available and covered with a blanket.
Some sobering thoughts to try and not focus on next time you fly! Thankfully in more positive news, planes without engines can actually still glide for quite a long time.
Do you know anyone who is a pilot or flight attendant? Have you heard any mind-blowing facts about flying?