posted on Jun, 8 2013 @ 02:55 PM
One little catch to this law of physics (if it even is one)...
OK. So a normal plane is pressurized right? Well what is it pressurized to? Anyone know? I know from personal experience of flying that a KC-135 is
pressurized to 8,000 feet. In fact, I believe that the highest we could pressurize the aircraft was for 10,000 feet so if your at or below that
altitude, it doesn't take much to open the doors on a jet.
Here's a true story that some crew chiefs (zaphod) can attest to. One time a KC-135 landed and taxied to its parking spot. The outside elevation was
at 911 feet (grand forks afb, ND). The aircraft remains pressurized until the co-pilot depressurizes the aircraft. At that time the boom operator
opens the crew entry chute by pulling down on the open handle, allowing the door to swing down and open up. Pretty standard right?
Well on this occasion, the co-pilot and boom operator missed this part in the checklist, the boom proceeded to open the crew entry chute, and a lonely
crew chief was there to assist in hooking up the latter for the crew to climb down. The chute blew off with so much force that it detached from the
aircraft and struck the crew chief. Somehow he survived and the crew was brought to their knees because of a semi rapid decompression. Lesson
Now we have the crew entry chute, the cargo door, two overwing hatches and an aft hatch on a tanker. They all have four point locking mechanisms on
them that we have to check for every flight, before we pressurize the aircraft. On a tanker, the only thing I can think of happening in flight was the
cargo door opening up in the pattern while doing touch and go's. But after the accident with the crew chief, pressure in the plane while doing
pattern work (i.e. a boom's worse nightmare: touch and go's...so boring) was dropped to 2000 feet, in case of the same problem happening again.
Moral of the story: yes you can open up a door in a commercial airliner even if the jet is pressurized at 8,000 feet if you are in fact below 8,000
feet, because the pressure is even. We have all kinds of warnings in our T.O.'s about this. So if you see someone going for a door on descent or
ascent, stop him please, and then come to ATS and tell us about it!
One point about a rapid decompression, a small hole in a plane will not cause an aircraft to lose pressure. We have a small hole in the boom pod that
we used to smoke from (shhhhhh!!!!!). We created a contraption that held a cigarette in place in a position that sucked all the smoke out of the jet,
thus the pilots up front couldn't smell it. Helped out us smokers on 15 hour OEF missions. lol
Also, the old nav sextant hole is still on the plane. there's just a little lever that you have to open up that reveals about a one inch hole to the
outside of the jet that doesn't decompress the jet. So no a bullet hole won't cause it, but a bullet through a window might!