It doesn’t have as much to with monsters on the wings as The Twilight Zone and Mitt Romney might have lead you to suspect.
For people who hate reading newspapers – and it’s all of us, really – Ann Romney‘s plane was recently forced to make an emergency landing. It’s quite possible Mitt was flustered when he remarked:
“When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go, exactly, there’s no — and you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem. So it’s very dangerous. And she was choking and rubbing her eyes. Fortunately, there was enough oxygen for the pilot and copilot to make a safe landing in Denver.”
Obviously, we all gasped collectively, because we know why airplane windows don’t open. It’s because of wing monsters.
But in case you were wondering (or in case you’re Mitt Romney, and, you know, you weren’t really joking) BlogHer researched why plane windows won’t open. Here is the answer:
Commercial aircraft fly far above the ground (usually 30,000 feet or more) so that they can move at high speeds with less fuel. That’s higher than even the tallest mountain peaks. At that great altitude, the air is both thin and cold. Exposure to that thin, cold air would both freeze and suffocate a human…
Airplanes have special interiors that are warm and have denser air than outside. We say that the cabin is “pressurized,” meaning the air inside needs to be placed at higher pressure to keep it less thin (i.e. denser) than the air outside the plane when it is flying at high altitude. The inside of the airplane can only stay warm with breathable air if it is sealed from the outside. This is why the doors are so thick and lock very tightly. It is also why the windows do not open. If a passenger opened a window at high altitude the warm, thicker air inside the plane would flow outside very quickly, and the inside of the plane would quickly become cold and lose density — making it hard to breathe inside the plane.
And also wing monsters.