Opening windows on an airplane, ROFLMFAO! Mitt sure is a moran or a jolly joker, depending on your point of view. Assuming others are as clueless –a safe assumption in an underfunded-education, science-challenged country – Yahoo ran a story explaining it all. That is more worrying than Mitt’s suggestion. He was admirably trying to show concern for Ann’s harrowing, though relatively common, experience with smoke in the cabin of her airplane. That’s about as close to human as Mitt gets.

It was probably a joke from a man who is about as funny as a bowling ball, but you never know. There are some weakly plausible reasons why he might say something so bizarre. Mitt isn’t the world’s best off-the-cuff speaker as his 47% speech shows. Sometimes he speaks first and thinks later. After 2+ years of stumping 18-hours a day, perhaps he was just tired. This may be one of those rare occurrences when the “I misspoke” explanation might be true. On the other hand, maybe he is as stupid as he sounds. It wouldn’t be the first time. But there is a very remote possibility he holds common misconceptions about aircraft like many others – misconceptions that are a combination of possibilities and impossibilities.

Ironically, his idea has some historical precedent. Aviators have investigated the window idea before, sometimes successfully. If your only experience with aerodynamics is rolling down a limo window and sticking your elbow out, it isn’t as goofy as it sounds. But, successful doesn’t mean practical.

Some airplanes have opening windows. Some have doors bigger than boxcars that open in flight. The problem isn’t windows, it is why you can’t or shouldn’t open them and if you did, what would happen.

Who Let the Smoke Out…Who?…Who?

First, Mitt’s “let the smoke” out rationale is off the mark. In the unlikely event there is smoke it probably doesn’t come from fire and if it does, it also probably comes from areas that already have fire suppression systems.

Mitt apparently didn’t watch the movie Backdraft and makes an assumption common in house fires. Opening windows doesn’t bring air (not oxygen as he suggests) in to blow smoke out. Instead, the open window it likely feeds the fire, providing there is enough air to do that. On airplanes, where higher pressure causes a film of air rushing past open windows, the smoke would probably be trapped in.

Then, there is the issue of pressurization. Airliners typically fly pressurized to about 6000-8000 feet so people can breathe easily, but they can breathe safely above that altitude…up to a point. Around 35,00 feet most people develop hypoxia in seconds, above 59,000 feet your blood boils, though airliners never fly this high.

If you’ve seen too many Bruce Willis movies, the explosive decompression issue is hog-wash. Explosive decompressions don’t last for minutes of hurricane force winds. They don’t pull passengers out windows considerably smaller than their asses. In fact, plugging the hole with an ample ass would probably help stop further decompression. Explosive decompressions momentarily create a thick fog and suck the air from your lungs. Pop, and you reverse-breathe as air leaves you. If you are high enough you can’t refill your lungs or subsist on the thin air. You’ll take a short nap until you get lower. You might have some lung trauma, but you might not be damaged by more than a little nausea or maybe ringing ears, but nothing as bad as a mild hangover from the tiny bottles of vodka. Trust me, I’ve been through them…on purpose.

Stowing Color TVs in the Overhead

It is hard to believe people come up with ideas that are self-evidently stupid sometimes. For example, I’ve heard dozens of people suggest passenger parachutes (oddly, there are whole airplane parachutes for small aircraft) would be a fine idea on airplanes without knowing it is probably more impractical than jumping up at the moment of impact.

The chaos of a planeload of people struggling into bulky parachutes in the aisle would make stowing color TVs in the overhead (a problem that can and should be fixed) pale in comparison. There is zero chance anyone would get into one, get to the door, and jump in the short time before the airplane met the ground. Then, they’d have to deal with the effects of the fall and the landing. There’s also that little thing about people passing out before they could even do that. Plus, a plane load of parachutes are heavy enough that you couldn’t stow baggage in or out of the airplane at any exorbitant cost. You’d never get off the ground.

Most of Mitt’s experience in airplanes is drinking champaign and making wads of money on board a private GulfstreamV. It’s doubtful he pays much attention past that. That ignorance could breed stupid statements. It happens.

On the other hand, maybe he is stupid and incapable of understanding anything other than investing in aerospace companies, shipping the work to the Philippines, and closing the place down. That happens too.

But, I’m with Mother Jones, I’m betting on the jolly joker theory.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks! More than politics, more than pop culture & humor.