While you sit in an airplane, tens of thousands of feet in the sky, you likely don’t think much about the air outside. Sure, that opening speech from the flight attendants may spark some little thought in your brain — “Huh, the masks drop if the cabin loses pressure? How pressurized is it?” — but for the most part, your thoughts likely stay within your sealed metal tube. But what if it suddenly came unsealed?
Then, you’d be subjected to the frigid temperatures (typically well into the negatives) of high-altitude air. You’d feel the drop in pressure, as cabin airflow goes from “light air-conditioned breeze” to “fucken wimdy” in the blink of an eye. In other words, you’d feel exactly what the passengers of a Russian short-haul flight experienced earlier this month when a door on their Antonov AN-26 blew open mid-flight.
Footage from the flight from the Sun, that we found via Popular Mechanics shows the frigid, chaotic conditions inside the Antonov, as its gaping rear doorway did its best to eject luggage and passengers on to the ground below. Luckily, all passengers remained inside the plane until the pilot could bring it down for an emergency landing — no one needed to test the D.B. Cooper method of airplane exit.
If the passengers in the clip look like they’re about to freeze, that’s because they are. The Antonov was traveling through Siberia en route to Magadan, and spent fifteen minutes open to the elements before touching back down.
Luckily, this kind of situation is rare. The Antonov AN-26 is an old plane, out of production by the time even the first 747s were assembled. Modern aircraft have more safety features and safeguards to prevent this kind of accident from ever happening. But, next time your pilot turns on the “fasten seatbelt sign,” maybe give another thought to the air outside your plane — and actually buckle your belt.