On the news, the footage showing the wrecked airplane were taken in full daylight. But the crash happened at night. The aircraft was crushed and broken in two pieces. The electrical system failed, so there were no lights. Inside the darkness of the fuselage, passengers were confused, terrified, and had no idea where to go to exit the plane.
According to one survivor's report, the man sitting next to the emergency exit door didn't understand how to get the door open.
So, here are my thoughts about this particular situation:
- Pay attention— whenever you board an airplane, memorize where you are sitting in relation to the emergency exits.
- Learn exactly how to operate the emergency exit door mechanism, in case you have to take over for the fellow sitting by the door who doesn't have a clue.
- Carry a small LED flashlight on your keychain. There are LED lights the size of a nickel that use a button battery, and can be attached to a lanyard around your neck or to your key ring.
- Keep your shoes on during the flight, in case you have to fight your way through debris and then jump to the ground.
On that last point, when this airplane came to rest in a field adjacent to the runway, no rescuers showed up for a long, long time. Passengers were forced to crawl out onto the wings and then jump 12 feet to the ground. Some suffered broken bones, others were knocked unconscious by the impact with the ground. Those who made it most safely to the ground were:
- Wearing sturdy shoes (no flip-flops or high-heels or other junk that people wear as shoes).
- They knew how to hit the ground feet first, knees bent, and then tuck and roll to one side to absorb the impact. This is known as a PLF or parachute landing fall. It's a good idea to have this technique in your skill set.