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Escape Slide Parachute

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MythBusters and the Scientific method
Episode 37, “Escape Slide Parachute (Story of Vesna Vulović)
Textbook: Chapter 3, Accelerated Motion. Free Fall.


  1. What is the myth?
    A person can survive free-fall from over 20,000 feet
    How far is this in meters?

    Convert feet to meters. 1 foot = 0.31 meters.

    20,000 feet x  0.31 meters   =  6200 m  =  6.2 x 10 3 m


  1. Why would people believe that myth is true?


Newspaper articles: Vesna Vulović, a Serbia flight attendant, survived the explosion of a DC-9, from 30,000 feet, in 1972.

  1. Testable predictions: A crash-test dummy, dropped from a high altitude, within an airplane, will experience survivable damage
  2. How do they test their prediction?
    * Purchase used airplane
    * cut away the rear section of the plane.
    * Strap a crash-test dummy into flight attendant’s seat.
    * Lift section up, thousands of feet high, with a helicopter.
    * Drop section in free-fall.
  3. Evaluation of the results?
    * Buster had a terrible amount of damage.
    * A person in that position would not survive this drop.
    * Yet it has been confirmed that Vesna Vulović (Serbia flight attendant) survived the explosion of a DC-9, from 30,000 feet, in 1972.
    * The section of the plane that the MythBusters dropped was only partially destroyed; other parts were still in shape.

    * Conclusion: Since we know such a fall is thus theoretically survivable, something was not adequate about our experiment:

    * Did they need to form a new hypothesis: Yes – they should re-test this with multiple crash dummies. They can be seated in various sections of the airplane. And the entire test could be repeated several times.


Free Fall gravity 10 m s s

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