Airplane travel remains a global fascination and with wonder, comes urban legends. Buckle up for the ride while we debunk 8 flying myths that people still believe.
The Bermuda Triangle
Myth: People disappear when they enter the Bermuda Triangle.
The mysterious region of the Bermuda Triangle is found in the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Florida and it's known to be a hotspot for unexplained disappearances of both ships and airplanes. But, is there any other explanation besides otherworldly activity? According to experts, it's more likely caused by a combination of various environmental factors. Most of the ocean's hurricanes and tropical storms trek through the region. Second, the Gulf Stream, a strong warm ocean current also travels north through the triangle and can induce unexpected and aggressive shifts in weather. To add to that, all of the little islands in the surrounding areas give rise to changes in water depth making it tricky to steer through. Interestingly enough, it's also where the magnetic north is the same as the true north and so, compasses don't need to be adjusted for variation which can result in poor navigation.
The Cabin Air Myth
Myth: The air on a plane is recycled over and over again.
The truth is that during a flight, the engines are continuously taking in fresh air from outside and once cooled, a portion is redirected to the cabin. Not only that, bacteria and viruses are removed from the existing air through HEPA filters and then combined with the fresh air pumped in. This allows the air in the plane to be entirely removed about 4 times an hour.
Lavatory Waste Myth
Myth: Airplane waste is sucked outside and dumped below.
We've all heard this rumor and it can't be further from the truth. In reality, toilet bowls on planes have non-stick surfaces and once flushed, a disinfectant is released and the waste is pulled by a strong vacuum suction through a trapdoor. It travels through the plumbing system below and is stored in sealed tanks at the back of the plane. After landing, a designated vehicle carefully drains the waste and it's transported to a nearby sewage system.
Effect of Alcohol While in the Air
Myth: The effects of alcohol are worse on a plane because of the altitude.
There's been no research that has proven this myth. With that said, other things can influence someone's intoxication on a flight. When flying, we tend to eat less food and drink less fluids which allows alcohol to reach our bloodstream faster and increases its absorption. Another reason you may be feeling more tipsy is altitude sickness. At higher altitudes, there are fewer oxygen molecules in the air which can cause you to feel dizzy and nauseated.
Losing an Engine
Myth: If a plane loses an engine, it will go down.
Contrary to Hollywood movies, engine failure rarely happens. If it ever does, it will simply affect the power of the plane but it's still capable of flying and landing. Planes are meticulously inspected and checked before and after flights and pilots are trained for all emergencies. A Boeing 777, for example, can fly for about 5.5 hours after losing one engine.
Aircraft Fly Themselves on Autopilot
Myth: Planes can fly on their own with autopilot.
Despite the reports, aircraft don't just fly themselves. Autopilot systems are made up of several mini systems that can work together to regulate speed, altitude, route, direction of the nose, thrust, and much more. Pilots undergo years of training and schooling to fly planes and in fact, they're the ones controlling the automation of the flight. Planes need to reach a certain altitude before pilots can even engage in autopilot. What's more is that pilots need to constantly adapt to a variety of weather changes, communicate with air traffic controllers, carry out standard operating procedures and protocols, and manually perform take-off and landing.
You Won't Survive a Plane Crash
Myth: It's impossible to survive a plane crash.
Plane crashes are probably the most common fear of passengers but there's actually a higher chance of getting into a car accident. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, you're more likely to be poisoned or electrocuted than be involved in a plane crash. Even so, research has shown that there's a 90% rate of surviving a plane crash.
Turbulence Causes Airplane Crashes
Myth: Turbulence can bring down an airplane.
Turbulence is unexpected and unusual changes in the movement of air which can make the ride feel choppy and bumpy. Changes in weather patterns, jet streams, and pressure are just some of the conditions that influence turbulence. Although it's alarming, turbulence is very normal and rarely causes plane crashes. Sometimes if turbulence is severe, it can cause injuries so be sure to buckle up when advised to do so by the crew.
We hope we've given you some relief when it comes to flying. Don't believe everything you hear. All in all, airplane travel has proven to be a safe form of transportation so fly away!
Written by Arista Caldera