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iPhone miraculously survives 16000 ft free-fall from Alaska Airlines after mid-air door blowout

Among the passengers of Alaska Airlines window-shattered flight, an iPhone adds its name to the list of survivors.

iPhone miraculously survives 16000 ft free-fall from Alaska Airlines after mid-air door blowout
Cover Image Source: TikTok | @seansafyre

Among the passengers of a window-shattered Alaska Airlines flight, an iPhone adds its name to the list of survivors, astonishing everybody and sparking discussions around the web! Apparently, the twinge of intrigue is reserved not only for science fiction movies. A recent incident left many people baffled beyond wonderment, especially the iPhone users. On a Friday evening flight in Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9, en route from Portland, Oregon, to Ontario, California, the doorplug of the fuselage suddenly ripped apart, blowing off mid-flight and leaving an enormous fissure in the plane as per CBS News. Passengers survived, but what’s even more interesting is the fact about another survivor – an iPhone!

Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Jeffry Surianto from Pexels:
Image Source: Pexels | Jeffry Surianto

As the hole gashed open, various objects got sucked down from the flight, plummeting roughly 16,000 feet down into the air. These objects included headrests, seat backs and tray tables. Of these objects was a passenger’s iPhone. Two days later, on a Sunday morning, a Washington resident named Sean Bates, tweeted that while he was taking a walk down Barnes Road, he had found the iPhone lying under a bush, still operating, in airplane mode, with half-battery level showing.


Puzzled and astonished at first, he picked up the iPhone and monitored it for damage, but found none. "It was still pretty clean, no scratches on it, sitting under a bush, And it didn't have a screen lock on it, so I opened it up and it was in airplane mode with travel confirmation and baggage claim for Alaska 1282”, he reported on TikTok.

Image Source: TikTok | @seansafyre
Image Source: TikTok | @seansafyre


Having discovered the iPhone, Bates immediately called the National Transportation Safety Board, the federal agency investigating the window-shattering incident, where someone told him that it was the second phone to be found from the plane, still intact and working. Surprisingly, the iPhone found seemed to be totally unaffected by the free-fall from the aircraft. Just like the passengers, Apple’s iPhone proved to be a survivor in this incident.

Image Source: TikTok | @seansafyre
Image Source: TikTok | @seansafyre

Even though the on-flight passengers are still scared and stunned, the surviving iPhones are rolling out several discussions on the web. Call it Apple’s state-of-the-art quality or a heavily shielded protective casing, the phone nowadays is the subject of people’s science fiction whims. But it is not all fiction. Duncan Watts, a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics offers an explanation for the survival of the iPhone. He says, “The basic answer is air resistance, I think the counterintuitive thing here is that an iPhone falling from the sky doesn’t end up moving that quickly because of air resistance. Any object falling through toward Earth will reach a point, known as its terminal velocity, where the force of gravity can’t accelerate it anymore because of resistance from the air in the atmosphere."

Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Anugrah Lohiya:
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Anugrah Lohiya

"If the phone is falling with its screen facing the ground, there’s quite a lot of drag, but if the phone is falling straight up and down, there’s quite a bit less,” Watts said. “In reality, the phone would be tumbling quite a bit, and get quite a lot of wind essentially giving an upward force. The terminal velocity of a large screen-down iPhone would be about 30 mph. The larger the iPhone, the lower the terminal velocity, the maximum is around 100 mph, but that would only happen if the phone’s screen was perpendicular to the ground.” Watts said that when we drop a phone from waist height, it hits the ground at around 10 mph, while a phone dropped from the top of an airplane probably only reaches 50 mph.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | SevenStorm JUHASZIMRUS:
Representative Image Source: Pexels | SevenStorm JUHASZIMRUS

He further said that the phone surely would have been damaged had it landed on stone or pavement, but the grass or foliage it seems to have fallen on cushioned its fall. “If the iPhone fell on a grassy patch, then it definitely could have survived the fall,” said Watts. To wrap it up, the Alaska Airlines plane Boeing 737 Max 9s has been taken into custody by the FAA. They will repair and keep the plane until the authorities are satisfied that it is safe. Correspondingly, some of the upcoming flights on this airplane have been canceled.

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