See What Happens When A Boeing 727 Is Crashed Into The Desert On Purpose

Plane crash

Photo: Discovery Channel

Deliberately smashing a multi-million dollar plane into the desert packs high entertainment value, but the elaborate experiment, which kicked off the second season of Discovery Channel’s “Curiosity” series, wasn’t just for gasps.It was also part of an effort to make the 2.8 billion flights that hit the skies each year safer.  

“This groundbreaking experiment looks at what actually happens during a plane crash and the science behind passengers’ best chance for survival,” the Discovery Channel writes in a statement.

A similar demonstration was carried out by NASA in 1984, resulting in a fiery explosion. 

Will this time be different? 

A 170-passenger Boeing 727, dubbed Big Flo, is used for the experiment. Here she is before the crash.

Big Flo takes off from an airport in Baja California, Mexico, carrying a pilot, co-pilot and a flight engineer.

A three-mile crash site in the remote region of Mexico's Sonoran Desert is cleared ahead of time.

30 minutes into the flight, the co-pilot and passenger parachute out of the plane.

The pilot jumps out of the plane just three minutes before it crashes.

Fifteen crash-test dummies, some with sensors, remain onboard.

The doomed jet is now remotely controlled by a pilot in a helicopter that flies beside it.

The researchers want to know: Will Big Flo explode in flames or break into pieces on impact?

The jet slams into the Mexican desert going 140 mph.

The descent is more than three times faster than a typical commercial airliner.

On impact the plane breaks into three pieces and the nose crumples under the fuselage.

The cockpit completely separates from the rest of the aircraft, which is fairly disconcerting for pilots.

Cameras capture the scene inside the plane which shows luggage tumbling out of the overhead bins and oxygen masks deploying. The cabin fills with smoke and dust.

Now it's time for the scientists to investigate. First they review the footage from the 19 cameras inside the plane.

This is the first real-time high-resolution video anyone has captured from inside an actual plane crash.

The team found that first-class passengers would have died whereas those in the middle of the cabin would probably walk away with nothing more than broken bones and concussions. The folks in the back of the plane were safest.

Despite extensive damage to the cockpit, the pilots could also have survived.

The flight experts found that bracing for impact by putting your head down and placing your hands over your head can be a life-saver.

And sitting within five rows of an exit gives passengers the best chance of escaping.

Seat-belted passengers who didn't brace themselves ended up with spinal injuries.

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