15 Shocking Facts About The Airplanes You Fly In

Posted Jun 28, by Val Liarikos

Airplane food is just about the worst food you could expect to be served, so imagine being a pilot and eating the same food over and over again. Airplane food actually used to be made on board, and was much better, but for cost effectiveness they started serving prepackaged meals.

Airports are extremely strict on regulations and safety, and although the premade meals are much safer than if they were made on board, there is still a risk for food related illness. For this reason, most airlines have their pilots eat different meals. This minimizes the threat because if one meal is contaminated, it is highly unlikely that the other is, ensuring the safety of at least one pilot!


One of the passengers thought it was a good idea to smuggle a crocodile onto an airplane via sports bag, as if the reptile couldn't possible escape. Unfortunately for the passengers of the small African airplane, it did. As the passengers panicked, they rushed towards the cockpit of the small plane, which led pilots to lose control of the plane and crash.

Authorities originally believed the plane crashed because of a fuel problem, that the plane must have run out or something along those lines. They were wrong. There were two survivors of the crash, and one of these survivors told reporters what really happened. One of the survivors wished to remain anonymous, and the other was the crocodile. It took down the plane, but it couldn't escape the local villagers with machetes.


Michel Lotito holds the record for the largest airplane eaten, as well as the only airplane eaten. This world record should definitely hold the world record for the weirdest world record. Michel Lotito was able to chew up just about anything and eat it, from light bulbs to razor blades to glass bottles to brocoly. This hobby reduced his teeth to little stumps, but he still refused to quit. In the 1990’s, he spent two years eat a Cessna 150. He first had to break it up with a sledgehammer, acetylene torch, and bottle cutter but he did bite most of the glass parts directly off the plane. Lotito wasted nothing on his plate; he consumed everything from the upholstered leather seats and the tires. At the age of 57, he died of natural causes, technically. http://listverse.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/michel_lotito.jpg Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Lotito

The role of the flight attendant derived from similar positions on passenger ships and trains. However, because passengers are in closer quarters while on a plane, and because there are a lot more safety concerns while on air, the skills required of a flight attendant are much more specific than for other similar roles.

The first flight attendant was a man, Heinrich Kubis, in 1912. Soon after, most airlines had cabin boys or stewards in the 1920s. It was United Airlines who hired the first female flight attendant in 1930. Her name was Ellen Church and she was a 25-year-old registered nurse. She was so good, that she started a trend of hiring female nurses to work on airplanes, and they completely replaced men by 1936.

The job of a flight attendant was high in demand, because it was one of the only jobs where women could be hired at the time; there are examples of 2000 women applying for 43 spots, for example. Because of this, airlines were able to be choosy. The New York Times wrote this list of requirements in 1936:

"The girls who qualify for hostesses must be petite; weight 100 to 118 pounds; height 5 feet to 5 feet 4 inches; age 20 to 26 years. Add to that the rigid physical examination each must undergo four times every year, and you are assured of the bloom that goes with perfect health."

Check the source for more info on this and let us know what the craziest work requirement you've ever encountered is.

When it comes to cutting costs, taking out a single olive might not seem like the most effective way to go. But for American Airlines in 2001, it worked out quite well. Following 9/11, airlines were having some difficulty. There were numerous other factors involved, but the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon had left people a little uneasy about airplane travel, in the same way that movie ticket sales have been down following the recent shooting in Colorado.

To show an example, American Airlines’ then rival, United Airlines, was doing so poorly that they would have needed to fill 103% of their seats just to break even. So Bob Crandall, the former chief of AA, made many cost cutting decisions- including removing one olive from each salad.

While one olive might not seem like much cost saving, all the olives taken out made up a $40,000 drop in in-flight meal costs per year.


If you can picture an airport, think about what it would be like if instead of a road for airplanes, the airstrip was Main Street and there were houses and stores popping up around it. That’s exactly what the town of Bar Nunn is!

In 1952, Wardwell Field, Natona County Wyoming’s airport was relocated, leaving behind a perfectly good airport. A local developer took matter to his own hands and repurposed the airport into a town.

Check out more info on the town here.

Catarina Migliorini of Brazil is making headlines for auctioning off her virginity for $780,000. The winner of the bid is a Japanese man only known as Natsu. The auction caught the eye of bidders from not just Japan and Brazil, but also the US, Australia and even India. 

To avoid any legal problems, the one-hour session with the girl will take place on an airplane flying over international waters. Romantic, no? The auction was organized by an Australian filmmaker who's making a documentary about it. Again, romantic, no? 

Lest you call her an offensive name, the girl says she will donate 90% of the money to charities that are building homes for the poor in her native state in Brazil. However, her sister has disputed this claim. 

Catarina is not the only one who's doing this for the Australian filmmaker, 21-year-old Alexander Stepanov also participated in the documentary, but his v-card only managed to raise $3,000. Ironically, the lucky lady lives in Brazil. 


Juliane Koepcke was the daughter of two famous Zoologists who ran a research station in the Amazonian Jungles of Peru. She was on a flight with her mother going from Lima, Peru to Pucallpa, Peru in the Amazon jungle. The flight would take less than an hour. They were flying to spend Christmas with Juliane’s father. The flight went fine until halfway through it. A lightning bolt hit a fuel tank and ripped the right wing off.

Presents were flying around the cabin and then Juliane was sucked out of the airplane as it spiraled to the ground. She was still attached to a row of chairs. She fell two miles before she landed in the jungle among thick foliage. She knew about the Amazon and how to survive, because her father had taught her. She had a broken collarbone and one eye was swollen shut.

She had major lacerations on her arms and legs. She found a creek and began walking through it to find a stream that would lead her to a river and civilization. She survived crocodiles, piranhas, and devils rays. She walked for 10 days before she found a boat and a hut. She was starving and had maggots infesting her wounds. She stayed in the hut for the night and the next day Peruvian lumberjacks found her and brought her to a nearby town.


Ormer Leslie Locklear, known as Lock, was a stunt pilot and film actor after World War I. He hailed from Texas and was a trained carpenter. While he was still attending school, he was a daredevil performer in and on moving vehicles. Lock became fascinated with flying and even tried to build his own glider. 

When the U.S. joined in on World War I in 1917, Lock joined the U.S. Army Air Service training in Austin, Texas. He became a flying instructor and an expert at wing walking to make aircraft repairs during flight. He would literally leave the cockpit and diagnose a problem from the wing, fix it, and then return to the cockpit whilst flying it. 

By the end of the war, Lock was a 2nd Lieutenant and was assigned to military recruitment. He happened to see a barnstorming show and realized his flying talents were much more impressive. He left the army and joined the show with two of his military colleagues. They eventually bought their own airplane and started their own show. It opened the door for Lock in the movie business, where he performed aerial stunts for the camera. 


German airline Lufthansa commissioned a study that looked at the reasons for why people would choose to drink tomato juice up in the air when they normally wouldn't drink it. What they found is amazing: we perceive flavors differently, not because of the altitude, but because of the air pressure conditions in aircrafts.

The researchers found that smell and taste detection thresholds are higher under low pressure. In normal pressure, people said tomato juice was described as earthy and musty, but under low pressure, it was sweet. The takeaway is that our perceptions of the taste of salt, sugar and herbs is weaker at airplane-levels of air pressure. 

Lest you think this was a silly experiment, the findings helped Lufthansa change their menus to take advantage of this so that people enjoy their airplane meals better.


In 1995, Paula Dixon boarded an airplane. She had crashed her motorcycle on her way to the airport, but made it there and boarded even though she was injured. 

Once on the airplane she started complaining of chest pain. Angus Wallace, Britain’s most respected orthopedic surgeon happened to be on the flight with another doctor. They assessed the woman and determined that she was most likely suffering from tension pneumothorax. 

Her rib had punctured the membrane around her lung, which broke the airtight seal in her chest cavity. Wallace decided to operate on Dixon 35,000 feet in the air. He used part of a coat hanger sterilized with brandy to insert a tube into her chest cavity. 

This procedure allowed the air to escape and decompress her chest. Dixon recovered within minutes. Wallace said that after the operation, he drank the rest of the brandy. 


While the spork has achieved praise from airplane regulars around the world, few know about its cousin, the knork! Combining the cutting aspect of a knife with the puncturing aspect of a fork, the knork was actually invented for those without one hand, allowing them to cut their food without aid. 

It was never formally introduced to the market, but its origins can be traced back hundreds of years. Horatio Nelson, who lost his right arm, is said to have used a knork, inviting the nickname the “Nelson fork,” which dates the knork all the way back in 1797!


Ben Padilla, an aircraft mechanic and his helper were working on the 727 to get it flight-ready.

Padilla had a private pilot's license, but his helper had no experience.

A 727 requires 3 pilots to fly it. Without permission or contact with the airport, they plane began to taxi down the runway erratically and flew off towards the Atlantic never to be seen again.

The incident sent the US into a frenzy believing it could be another terrorist attack. They've since dropped their investigation.

It is the largest airplane to ever disappear without a trace.


Ernst fell out of favor with Hitler in 1933. To teach him a lesson, Hitler put him in an airplane with secret sealed orders that he was not supposed to open until he was in the air.

The orders said he was flying into then-hostile Spain. He would be be parachuted down and work with Francisco Franco. By all accounts, he would most likely die. He claimed that he talked to the pilot into letting him free. However, others say it was just a practical joke.

Apparently, the true story is that the plane wascircling Germany. Hitler was just trying to scare Ernst into thinking they were getting closer to Spain. At the end of the 'prank,' the plane safely landed back in Germany.

Despite this, Ernst was so upset that he defected to Switzerland, then to England, and ended up in the U.S. where he gave valuable information about 400 Nazi leaders and details about Hitler and his personal life. 


Pilots definitely take their jobs seriously, but they are also known for their jokes and horsing around. Anyone see “Top Gun?”

Anyways, to honor the inexcusable errors and mistakes of pilots, the Blunder Trophy was created at McCook Field, and later at Wright Field. Some of the trophies have been given for taxing into a parked airplane and taking off without enough fuel and being forced down “out of gas.”

At the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio you can see some of the Blunder trophies for yourself.


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