Wednesday, June 22, 2005

It's not the fall that kills you...

` A question I'm sure we've all considered: Do you have to die after falling from a really high place?
` The answer is 'no'. And if you're a Klingon, you die before then, because Klingons traditionally kill just to get into high places... but that's a completely different thing.
bIjatlh 'e' yImev!
Sorry, Motag!

` Of course, I'm talking about people falling out of airplanes and things. For example, in 1963, Marine pilot Cliff Judkins's chute didn't open after he bailed out out of his badly damaged fighter plane. He fell 15 thousand feet into the Pacific, and all he suffered was a collapsed lung and some broken bones.
` Alan Magee fell 20 thousand feet from an exploding B-17 in 1943. He landed on the skylight of a French train station, which shattered his arm, but he lived.
` An I.M. Chisov fell when his bomber was shot down in a snowy ravine, which caught him relatively safely.
` R.A.F. Sergeant Nicholas Alkemade leapt from his bomber without a parachute at 18 thousand feet, and he fell about 90 seconds. He landed first on tall pine trees before plowing into 18 inches of snow. He had scratches, burns, bruises, and according to some reports, a twisted knee. That was it.

` So apparently, if you're in a plane and it's shot down, you may still have a chance to survive, even if you jump out of it! I don't recommend this, of course, but just in case you do find yourself quickly accelerating towards earth, remember this:
` First of all, you need something to break your fall - other people's lives have been saved by loose dirt, the hood of a car, an iron bar, metal screens, or a metal lath ceiling. Second of all, you need to be able to land right. Then you might not die! Isn't that amazing?

` One life-saving thing to fall on is deep water - but you have to know how to hit it first:

` In 1979, there is an incident known where a 17-year old leapt from the Golden Gate Bridge and fell 250 feet down! For the boy, time slowed down, and when he realized that he was about to be slammed into the water, he managed to move into a feet-first position.
` At about 20-25 feet down in the water, he said that he may have touched bottom, and it is this long, buffering distance which dispersed the force of the impact. He swam to shore where he got himself to a hospital and discovered that his worst injuries were some cracked vertebrae.

` That's a very interesting thing, since, as of 2003 anyway, less than twenty people of the many thousands who have jumped, actually survived. For example, stunt-guy Kid Courage jumped off the bridge in 1980. He landed on his back, though, which resulted in him decelerating from 75 mph to 0 in about six inches. He died of his internal injuries while drifting underwater.

` So remember, kids! If you find yourself plummeting towards the ocean without a parachute for any reason, try to be as streamlined as possible - or you'll be sure to have a painful and hopefully quick death! If you're falling over land, try to aim for something breakable or cushiony. 'Cuz you never know... you just might live!

This has been a Public Service Announcement.

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