US Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who has been flying around the USA with his wife Ann this summer on his campaign trail, has revealed a rather flimsy knowledge of the science of aviation.
After Ann's plane was forced to make an emergency landing
last week, Romney spoke to the Los Angeles Times
about how worried he had been for her safety.
"I appreciate the fact that she is on the ground, safe and sound. And I don't think she knows just how worried some of us were," Romney told the paper.
"When you have a fire in an aircraft, there's no place to go, exactly... 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. So it's very dangerous."
In case you're wondering, plane windows don't open because there isn't enough oxygen at cruising altitude to keep passengers alive. (The fear of window or cabin failures, which would lead to potentially fatal hypoxia, is why many planes are equipped with emergency oxygen masks).
Romney's implication that additional oxygen in the cabin during the electrical malfunction could've alleviated the problem is also misguided. In fact, if there were an electrical fire on board, additional oxygen would have fed the flames.
Cabin crew reveal the silliest ever passenger requests
- True or false? Flights still do not cross the Bermuda Triangle
False! 'It’s surprising how many people still believe in the legend of the Bermuda Triangle, but the truth is, planes fly over this area every single day, as it's a major flight route from Florida to Bermuda and the Bahamas,' says Aaron Ritoper from <a href="http://www.fly.com/" target="_blank">Fly.com</a> Boats sail, planes fly and people swim in the Triangle. The legend started decades ago when a researcher outlined an area he was studying where vessels and aircraft had gone missing. It was given the moniker 'The Bermuda Triangle' and the legend became an overnight sensation. But many disappearances have now been explained in purely logical terms.</p>
- True or false? If the plane crashes, you are doomed
False! The idea of a plane crash is enough to perturb even the most seasoned traveller, but contrary to popular belief, when the US Government’s National Transportation Safety Board studied accidents over 20 years they recorded a survival rate of over 95 per cent. What’s more, the chances of dying on your next flight are calculated to be one in 60 million, making air travel hundreds of times safer than travelling by car. In fact, on this basis you could fly every day for the next 160,000 years without a problem.</p>
- True or false? Food tastes blander mid-flight
True! Recent research from the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics has shown that altitude can dull human taste buds by up to 30 per cent, meaning that it might not be your in-flight meal that’s rubbish, but your own taste receptors. The length of a flight can also have an impact on your taste buds, as the longer a flight, the more dehydrated you become and therefore the more dulled your palate. If you can, choose something with tomato, lemongrass or curry, and the flavours should hold up! </p>
- True or false? You cannot take a gun on a plane
False! OK, so maybe YOU personally can’t take a gun on a plane, but American pilots are permitted to carry guns on flights in and out of Britain. Since September 11th 2001, the US Federal Aviation Administration permits all US pilots be armed in the cockpit in case of an unexpected emergency or terrorist attack. For flights of all nationalities, the cockpit is always locked, and passengers are not permitted to take tours or get branded wings from the pilot as they were able to before 9/11.</p>
- True or false? You get drunk quicker on an aeroplane
False! Or more false than true, anyway. According to an old saying, one in the air is like three on the ground. But that adage isn’t strictly accurate; it’s your blood alcohol level that determines levels of intoxication and this is not affected in any way by altitude. However, with less oxygen reaching the brain because of the high altitude and the pressurised cabin, it might cause some passengers to feel more inebriated. Either way, we wouldn’t advise drinking excessively onboard, if only out of courtesy to your neighbours...</p>
- True or false? Air fares don't vary greatly between days of the week
False! The difference in cost between weekend and weekday flights can be quite significant. Looking at historical data the flight experts at <a href="http://www.fly.com/" target="_blank">Fly.com</a> suggest that booking flights on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday will usually net you a far better fare.</p>
- True or false? Electronic devices interfere with a plane's navigational system
False! It is widely believed that mobile phones could adversely affect the navigational instruments in an aeroplane’s cockpit, but there is currently no credible evidence that links electronic devices with interference. 'Aeroplanes are specially insulated against foreign radio signals, and their communication and navigation instruments operate on different frequencies from mobile phones, meaning that phone signals are unlikely to interfere with the plane’s sat nav. 'The ban is actually in place to prevent communication problems on the ground,' says Aaron Ritoper from <a href="http://www.fly.com/" target="_blank">Fly.com</a>. 'If someone made a phone call from a plane, the signal would bounce across multiple signal towers at once, which could prevent other calls from going through.' It’s still a hotly debated topic with many suggesting airlines only support the ban in order to increase the use of expensive in-flight ‘air phones’. For now, relax and enjoy the in-flight peace and quiet.</p>
- True or false? X-ray machines at airports won't harm your gadgets
True! Despite what many people think, airport security X-ray machines cannot harm your gadgets – computers, cameras, MP3 players and phones are all perfectly safe because the x-ray procedure does not use magnetic charges. However, budding photographers would be wise not to carry old fashioned film with them on planes, as the machines can damage undeveloped photos.</p>
- True or false? Cheap flights are helping less wealthy people travel
False! Despite making up over a quarter of the population, low income households took just six per cent of the flights recorded from London airports last year, while the top earning quarter of the population took almost half of all flights, according to <a href="http://www.fly.com" target="_blank">Fly.com </a>statistics. So it’s actually the wealthiest people who are benefiting from the growth in air travel: people with second homes abroad take an average of six return flights with the airlines every year. While air travel has been getting progressively cheaper over the past decade, there’s still a long way to go before it is accessible to all.</p>
- True or false? The recycled air in an aeroplane cabin quickly spreads germs and sickness
False! Air recirculates in an aeroplane cabin approximately every three to five minutes. For that reason, some concerned travellers believe that this constantly recycles germs through the air supply and fosters sickness. However, aeroplanes use sophisticated HEPA filters designed to extract 99.5 per cent of germs and viruses from the air, while studies have even shown that the air filters can remove SARS and bird flu germs, potentially making it cleaner than the stuff you breathe on the ground.</p>
- True or false? You can't open the door on a commercial jet mid-flight
True! There have been a number of stories in the media about passengers’ attempts to open the emergency door at altitude, but this is in fact impossible. Why? 'Because the door is designed to open inwards before opening outwards, and the pressure differential between the cabin and the outside air at altitude prevents this required inward motion - the door is in fact sealed tighter the higher the plane goes. So rest assured: no matter how hard you try, that door is not going to open until you’re firmly on the ground,' explains Aaron Ritoper, UK manager for <a href="http://www.fly.com/" target="_blank">Fly.com</a></p>