While a fear of flying is not uncommon, especially when considering all of the horror movies involving planes and plane crashes, ample evidence suggests that the odds of being in an actual plane crash are extremely low. In fact, the chances of being in a fatal crash are one in 11 million. In addition, the majority of plane crash victims survive, with over 95% of passengers making it out alive.
In the rare instances that planes do crash, the human body enters survival mode - here's what can happen to it during a plane crash.
Passengers Sometimes Receive No Warning That The Plane Is Crashing
Two factors can determine whether or not passengers are informed of an impending plane crash: if the pilot is in control of the crash, and what is causing the crash. If the pilot is struggling for control, the spinning and maneuvering can cause passengers to lose consciousness. However, if the pilot has control and is preparing for a "controlled crash," pilots generally tell passengers to brace for impact, or share the protocol for dealing with an emergency.
But these types of crashes don't tend to be fatal. If the cause of the crash is sudden, like an explosion from an engine catching on fire, a passenger is very unlikely to remain conscious for more than a few moments.
The Human Body Shifts Into Fight-Or-Flight Mode
The fight-or-flight response oftens occurs in traumatic or panic-inducing situations. Adrenaline and norepinephrine are released from the adrenal glands, causing the heart rate to rise, the lungs to work harder, and the body to feel less pain and muscle stress. Neurons in the brain begin firing, telling the body that it needs to move right away to maximize the chance of survival.
All this is meant to keep a person alive, preparing them for either escape or defense, but this can potentially be of little benefit in the event of a crash.
Passengers May Experience A Brief Sensation Of Weightlessness
In crashes where the plane nosedives or hits a sharp turn, the body can feel weightless within the plane. The body rises from its seat, limbs floating and objects hovering, as if in space. What's interesting is that the body is not actually weightless - this is just a sensation. Instead, the body is falling in such a way that it appears weightless in relation to the plane. It won't be like being in space or on a zero-G simulator, and it may only happen for a brief instant.
One crash survivor described the feeling as follows: "You get thrown up in the air, everything goes weightless and everything inside the plane starts floating around. It's like this bizarre scene where you're like, 'I'm in a space movie and nothing's going to happen!'"
According To Some, Bracing For Impact Is Dangerous
Although passengers are told to brace for impact in small crashes, being in the brace position can potentially do more harm than good in a large crash. Some skeptics insist that the crash impact may be enough to break the spinal column and other bones, as well as damage organs when in the brace position.
However, experts always recommend bracing for impact, as the claim that it can kill a person faster is absolutely false. In most instances, the brace positions protects the human body from serious head injuries, broken bones, and death.