Romney’s wife Ann’s plane had to make an emergency landing Friday (Sept. 21) because of an electrical malfunction. Discussing the incident at a fundraiser the next day, he said: “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…”
Here’s why they don’t do that: Gravity tends to keep air molecules concentrated near the ground, so the atmosphere thins out as you go up. The air becomes so thin at 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) or so that airplane cabins must be pressurized above that altitude to prevent occupants from suffering from hypoxia, or lack of oxygen. Because temperature and pressure go hand-in-hand (i.e. low-pressure air feels cold), pressurization is also necessary to keep cabins sufficiently warm.
At 35,000 ft. (11,000 m), the typical altitude of a commercial jet, the air pressure drops to less than a quarter of its value at sea level, and the outside temperature drops below negative 60 degrees Fahrenheit (negative 51 degrees Celsius), according to The Engineering Toolbox. Exposed to such conditions, you would quickly die.
Update: Romney was joking. The New York Times’ Ashley Parker, who wrote the original report about the Beverly Hills fundraiser that quickly got spread around the Web, told New York Magazine today that Romney had been joking. Parker said that while her report didn’t explicitly indicate Romney was joking, “it was clear from the context” that he was.
So, Romney was joking after all about wanting to have plane windows that roll down. Still, we gotta ask… Do you think he really WAS joking about it? Are you going to vote for him this November?
Image: MSN Now