Mitt Romney Asks: Why Don’t Airplane Windows Open?
Here’s a video featuring the now-infamous Mitt Romney quote about windows on airplanes:
“When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go, exactly, there’s no — and you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem.”
Watch Romney’s facial expressions. Looking at him, I’m inclined to believe the follow-up reports — even the one from The Blaze, the conservative news site owned by Glenn Fucking Beck — that he was attempting to tell a joke. Actually, I’m quite flabbergasted that he can even tell a joke; in so many public appearances, he’s so stiff that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is downright charismatic next to him.
While I think that making light of your wife being in an airplane that was in an emergency is a bad idea, it’s worse to perpetuate the falsehood that Romney didn’t know why airplane windows don’t open.
Still, that’s no excuse not to show some videos why airplane windows don’t open. Who’s with me?
Warning: If you’re going on a flight very soon and have some fear of flying, skip the rest of this post. Trust me on this one.
Mayday: United Airlines 811, February 24, 1989
This episode of Mayday is about the February 24th, 1989 flight of United Airlines flight 811, a Boeing 747-100. As it was flying above the Pacific Ocean, an electrical short caused a cargo door to open. It caused explosive decompression, ripping off part of the fuselage and ejecting nine passengers. The pilots managed to land in Honolulu without any more loss of life.
Mythbusters: Explosive Decompression on a Plane
The Mythbusters pressurize a decommissioned DC-9 so that the difference between the inside air pressure and the outside ground-level pressure is equivalent to the pressure difference between the inside and outside of a plane at cruising altitude. Then they start making holes of varying sizes in the fuselage to see what happens…
How to Kill a Human Being: Hypoxia
In the documentary How to Kill a Human Being, we see how hypoxia — oxygen deprivation — affects former British Conservative MP Michael Portillo, who’s looking for a humane way to execute people. In this experiment, he sits in a chamber where the air pressure is reduced as if he were at a high altitude. Long story short: first you get dumb, then you get dead, and you don’t feel any pain along the way.
When Pilots Experience Hypoxia…in Flight
Here’s a recording (with captions) of pilots who are having trouble flying their plane because of a loss of cabin pressure leading to hypoxia. Luckily, the air traffic controllers realized what was going on and managed to talk them into descending to where the air was thicker. There’s a simultaneously frightening and hilarious moment when the pilot says, without any intended irony or sarcasm, “Unable to control altitude. Unable to control airspeed. Unable to control heading…Other than that, everything A-OK.”
Airport: The Decompression Scene
And last but not least, the “decompression” scene from the 1970 film Airport. You’d think that letting Dean Martin be a pilot would be the worst thing that could happen, but you’d be wrong. It’s explosive decompression, caused by a demolitions expert whose family needs the money — he thinks that if he dies in a mid-air explosion, his loved ones will get the insurance money.