Tag Archives: cabin pressure

Kiss Me, Kill Me Tuesday – Parachute Jumps and Chuck

First let me preface this with: I love CHUCK. It’s a great spy romantic comedy suspense.

Last night’s episode kind of annoyed me. I think in many different kinds of stories we’re asked to suspend disbelief for certain things. In the case of CHUCK there are many of them, but the primary one is that a person’s mind can somehow be programmed to be a supercomputer. It’s like believing that people can be genetically engineered to be something other than human (LOL!).

But when it comes to real life things, it’s up to a writer to make sure those real life things are portrayed accurately.

Case in point: The escape from the villain’s jet using parachutes. Chuck and his seemingly more nerdy older spy guy put on parachutes. They don’t secure them in any fashion, just slip them over their shoulders. They open the door to a moving jet and it goes flying off. They have time for banter and then jump out. The remaining people in the jet, who are unsecured in any way, are able to stay on the jet.

So wrong from a real life perspective.

1. You need to secure the parachute pack or it might get pulled off your body when you engage the chute. That’s just common sense.

2. Most parachute jumps occur from about 13,000 feet. HALO (High Altitude Low Oxygen) jumps occur from about 25,000 to 35,000 feet. HALO jumps require bailout oxygen because of the lack of oxygen at those high altitudes.

3. Most passenger jets fly at altitudes of between 30,000 and 37,000 feet. Smaller business jets may fly at even higher altitudes. Some twin engine aircraft and prop planes may fly as low as 8,000 feet. At higher altitudes, jumping from any kind of jet operating at standard norms would require bailout oxygen.

4. Flying planes at those heights also requires something else: Cabin pressurization to prevent passengers and crew members to maintain a safe and comfortable environment. Think of the inside of the cabin as the inside of a bottle of champagne. What happens when you pop off the top? With explosive decompression, things may get sucked out of the plane if the hole in large enough (as in an open door) and if the difference in pressure from inside the cabin to out is high enough.

5. The normal air speed for the aircraft when parachuting is about 90 mph. Most common jet airliners travel between 450 and 600 miles per hour. Smaller jets usually fly about 100 miles slower, but Honda is introduced a new jet in 2006 that flies at 480 miles per hour.

So in other words, the jet plane parachute escape was totally implausible on various real life points. Again, while some liberties are allowed with certain fictionalized elements that form the basis of your story, you cannot skimp on facts. If a viewer or reader immediately says, “That’s so not realistic”, it draws them out of the story. It’s your job as a writer not to let that happen.

Hope you enjoyed today’s Kiss Me, Kill Me Tuesday.

On another note, don’t forget the various contests that are running to celebrate the release of STRONGER THAN SIN!

Today is the last day for the Bitten by Books release party and a chance to win a $50 gift card.

The ARE YOU STRONG ENOUGH contest and Fresh Fiction contest will be running until the end of November.