“Surviving a 16,000-Foot Fall: The Miracle of iPhones on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282”

Alaska Airlines Flight 1282: How could iPhones survive a 16,000-foot drop? Now the impact force will be large (just like hitting the floor) and the impact area is very small. Air resistance limits the maximum speed, so it’s not necessarily going any faster falling from 18,000 feet than 1,000 feet,” Wiens explained. The gravitational force pulls down and there is also an upwards pushing air resistance force. This air resistance increases in magnitude as the phone moves faster through the air.

In a rare occurrence, Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 experienced the loss of a door midair, yet managed to land safely in Portland, Oregon. This unexpected event sparked curiosity when an iPhone, belonging to a passenger on the flight, was found on the side of the road in seemingly perfect condition.

The miraculous discovery was captured in a viral post by user Seanathan Bates, who described finding the iPhone that had survived a 16,000-foot drop “perfectly intact.” The device was still in airplane mode, with half a battery and open to a baggage claim for Alaska Airlines Flight ASA1282.

Found an iPhone on the side of the road… Still in airplane mode with half a battery and open to a baggage claim for #AlaskaAirlines ASA1282 Survived a 16,000 foot drop perfectly in tact! When I called it in, Zoe at @NTSB said it was the SECOND phone to be found.

No door yet😅 pic.twitter.com/CObMikpuFd — Seanathan Bates (@SeanSafyre) January 7, 2024

Although Bates clarified that there may have been some minor damage to the device, the screen remained unscathed. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board confirmed that not just one, but “two cell phones likely from the flight” had been recovered and turned over to Alaska Airlines. Most astonishingly, both devices were functioning iPhones.

But how is it possible for a smartphone to withstand such a dramatic fall, when there are countless individuals who have experienced shattered screens from much smaller incidents? While many were perplexed by this remarkable survival, experts offer a scientific explanation.

“Impacts are complicated,” explains Rhett Allain, an associate professor of physics and blogger. He goes on to describe how the impact force of a falling phone depends on various factors, such as the surface it lands on and the duration of contact with that surface. A shorter impact time, such as dropping a device on a hard surface, can result in a larger force that can potentially lead to damage. However, in this rare case, the iPhone had landed on a soft surface, reducing the impact force.

“It looks like [the iPhone] landed on dirt instead of concrete, which I’m sure helped a lot,” says Kyle Wiens, CEO and self-proclaimed “fixer” of iFixIt, a renowned repair guide company. He also notes that this is not the first time a device has survived a fall from a significant height, stating “I wouldn’t say this is super far fetched!”

Both Allain and Wiens also mention another important factor: terminal velocity. As a falling object reaches terminal velocity, the force of gravity and air resistance become balanced, resulting in a constant speed. This means that an iPhone falling from 18,000 feet is not necessarily moving any faster than one falling from 1,000 feet. According to Allain, “Once the phone reaches terminal velocity, it doesn’t matter how high up it fell from.”

Ultimately, it is not just the height of a fall that determines whether or not a device will survive, but also the combination of factors such as terminal velocity and the landing surface. So, next time you drop your phone on the ground, keep in mind that its survival may depend on more than just its airplane mode status.

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Dylan Williams

Dylan Williams is a multimedia storyteller with a background in video production and graphic design. He has a knack for finding and sharing unique and visually striking stories from around the world.

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