Survived 16,000-Foot Fall: iPhone Found Intact After Alaska Airlines Plane Incident

PORTLAND, Ore. – An iPhone found on the side of a road in Portland, Oregon, is drawing attention for surviving a 16,000-foot fall from an airplane. The device was discovered by Sean Bates, who shared the find on social media. Bates revealed that the phone was in airplane mode with half its battery remaining and displayed a receipt for baggage checked on Alaska Airlines flight 1282.

According to Bates, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) confirmed that this was the second phone found after a door plug blew off an Alaska Airlines plane just minutes after takeoff. The incident caused a hole in the aircraft, leading to objects being sucked out at an altitude of 16,000 feet. The NTSB speculated that the iPhone found by Bates was one of these objects.

The phone’s survival can be attributed to air resistance, as explained by Duncan Watts, a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics at the University of Oslo. Watts highlighted that objects falling towards the Earth reach a terminal velocity where gravity can no longer accelerate them due to air resistance. In the case of an iPhone falling with its screen facing the ground, the drag is significant, but if it falls straight up and down, there is less resistance.

Watts estimated that the terminal velocity of a large screen-down iPhone would be around 30 mph. The grass or foliage the phone landed on likely cushioned its fall. However, if it had landed on stone or pavement, it would have likely been damaged.

While Apple acknowledges that iPhones can be damaged if dropped, the company does not specify the maximum height from which the device is designed to survive. In Bates’ case, the phone was reportedly still clean and free of scratches.

This is not the first time an iPhone has survived a fall from the sky. In a separate incident, a TikTok user posted a video showing their iPhone surviving after flying out of their pocket during a skydiving session.

In conclusion, the iPhone found in Portland, Oregon, miraculously survived a 16,000-foot fall from an airplane. The device, which was found intact and still functional, served as evidence of the incident investigated by the NTSB.