Flying in the face of commonly held beliefs
GO on, admit it. As you tucked into your last sumptuous airline meal, the thought crossed your mind: ‘‘ What if the pilots have eaten the fish? What if I have to land the plane?’’
Relax, for after tonight’s episode of Mythbusters , you will no longer be troubled by such concerns. If you have yet to catch the bug, tonight’s offering is a great way to get hooked.
Mythbusters is what it says it is. A couple of eccentric former Hollywood special- effects experts set about proving or disproving popular myths.
Along the path there are experiments, inventions, explosions and the threat of dismemberment or even death for the presenters — sort of like The Curiosity Show meets Terminator . Thanks to the fact that for many people the concept of air travel utterly defies logic, aviation has gone on to provide plenty of myths ripe for busting, as has Hollywood.
The Airport series of films, where George Kennedy’s breadth of talent was so brilliantly showcased, leaps to mind as does the question: can a novice be talked through landing a commercial airliner?
Unable to source a real jumbo, hosts Adam and Jamie enlist the help of a NASA flight simulator and instructor to see if an aviation ignoramus can be plucked from economy class and taught how to land on the fly, so to speak.
The Airport films are not the only inspiration tonight. The Hollywood action flick Point Break , where Keanu Reeves pursues bank- robbing surfers ( with a penchant for skydiving), also comes in for the Mythbusters treatment. In fact, the team seeks to break three skydiving myths that appear in a single scene from the film.
When Patrick Swayze leaps from the plane with the last parachute, Reeves jumps after him and catches him midair.
The pair then conduct a debate about the merits of their roles, before reaching terra firma 90 seconds after leaving the plane at 1200m.
One scene, three myths: does it take that long to hit the ground from 1200m; can you converse in freefall; and can you catch someone who left the plane earlier than you? They don’t, however, address the question: why leap out of a perfectly serviceable plane in the first place?
The answer to each of these will surprise you, but the journey to the answers is entertainment in itself, as are Adam and Jamie’s attempts to land their ‘‘ fully laden’’ jumbos.
But are the myths busted? Grab a fish dinner and settle in to find out.
Sit the dummy: Mythbusters ’ Adam Savage with his passengers