Fly­ing in the face of com­monly held be­liefs

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv - Si­mon Can­ning

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

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