Drones are a relatively new phenomenon, so you may want to know more about them. You may have come across a few myths while doing so.
Quadcopter Arena shares some insights from the popular series, Mythbusters. It also reports findings from the Build team. These two groups tested drone-related, aerial myths to see how well they hold up. The teams found 12 that weren’t just hearsay.
1. Silicone breast implants may burst if a drone takes them to great heights. The blast is due to decreased air pressure.
Breast implants don’t expand in a hyperbaric chamber, even at 350000 feet (11.000 m). Humans can’t survive at this altitude for long. Researchers from Duke University found that atmospheric conditions would kill a person long before they could have an effect on the implants.
2. A human being can fly using only weather balloons and a deck chair.
Adam Savage went up in a weather balloon rig prepared by Mythbusters. It consisted of 16 hot air balloons and a lawn chair. The rig went up to its maximum height of 75 feet (23 m), with attached safety ropes. He descended by releasing some of the balloons. The FAA verified the event.
3. It’s possible to launch a person off a toilet seat by throwing a lit cigarette into a toilet bowl filled with gas.
The gas will ignite without triggering an explosion. An experiment showed that dumping half a can of gunpowder in a toilet bowl will not launch a person from the seat. That said, his clothes will burn slightly.
4. If you drop a coin from the highest point of the Empire State Building, it will kill a person or pierce the ground.
Coins did not go through asphalt disks, concrete, or a ballistics gel mask when shot at a speed of 65 mph (105 km/h). The small speed and low mass of the coins explain this. They were unable to go through these materials even when fired from a rifle. Changing it to shoot at speeds faster than sound did not help. In contrast, an authentic 6.5 mm bullet went through the skull. Upward winds and the roofs over the lower floors of the building also stopped them from reaching the ground.
5. Can a bullet cause explosive decompression and tear a plane apart?
The team sealed a retired DC-9 and created a force of up to 8 PSI. It seated Buster, then fired a 0.35 x 0.75 mm pistol through a window. None of these actions created more than a 0.35 In (9mm) hole. They wired a window with an explosive cord, but this failed to do more than move Buster’s arm through. Notably, a 100-grain (6.5 g) charge caused the aircraft to fail disastrously. The team examined Aloha Airlines Flight 243 and found that this Boeing 737 landed without incident despite exploding and decompressing.
6. A fire-fighting aerial vehicle can pull in a scuba diver.
Fire-fighting aerial vehicles use pumps that won’t run in the air. Therefore, they’ll release any person they draw in back into the water. They also don’t have enough force to pull him. An alternative to this story involves a bucket. It isn’t workable because the bucket has gaps that are too small to collect him.
7. A person can live, after a lift falls, by jumping just before it hits the base of the shaft.
A human being cannot jump faster than a falling lift. The lift would have hit the base of the shaft at about 53 mph (85 km/h) while a human can only leap at about 2 to 3 mph (3 or 5 km/h). Experts advise people to lie on the floor of the lift when it crashes. The attendant might have lived because the lift created a protective air layer. The elevator cable could have slowed it down.
8. Party balloons can carry a 4-year-old child.
We put this myth to the test and found that it isn’t plausible. Party balloons don’t have enough power to lift a human being. It takes a huge number (3500) balloons to carry a four-year-old girl of about 44 lbs (20 kg) just several feet off the ground.
9. A Ming Dynasty tale suggests that rockets, tied to a chair, are powerful enough to propel a man.
47 bamboo rockets, energized by gunpowder, burst, almost eradicating the chair and Buster before it launched. A throne run by 47 I-powered rocket engines propelled off course because of misaligned firing and balance. It didn’t have the force necessary to carry the chair for a reasonable distance. After testing this myth, the team had to remake Buster.
10. Hair cream can turn into an explosive device under suitable conditions and remove the head of a fighter pilot.
After reconstructing the surroundings of an F-104 Starfighter cockpit, the team took some time to get some hair cream to light up. Despite using massive amounts of cream, the best outcome was a tiny fire. Though there are reports of it causing small fires, there are no reported deaths. A fire in oxygenated surroundings killed the Apollo 1 astronauts.
11 Footballs can fly far away if you fill them with helium.
Footballs filled with helium were no different from footballs filled with compressed air. Both balls moved at the same speed when kicked. Because of their small mass, helium balloons had less inertia than those filled with air. They did not go as far as those filled with air, in many cases.
12. A stamp that’s joined to the rotor blade of a helicopter can make it tumble to the ground.
In a monitored scale test, a stamp did not affect the rotation of a helicopter’s rotor. The Mythbusters team increased the test range to 8000 stamps, which ruined the scale model. A full-scale test had the same outcome. The stamp did not disrupt the movement of the full-sized helicopter or alter its flight path. A stamp on the rotor did not cause a change either.
13. Two clashing bullets can join in mid-air.
The team attempted to place two Civil War guns in front of each other so that their bullets would clash in mid-air upon firing. However. They were unable to sync the weapons and make them fire at once. So they fired a rifle at a bullet that they dangled in mid-air. The fired bullet hit the other, and both joined. It’s rare but possible for two weapons to fuse.
14. Flying birds in a trailer can lighten it.
After making a large box, Adam and Jamie put pigeons in it and placed it on a scale. They then ran a device that made the pigeons fly, but there was no change in the box’s weight. They put a small-scale helicopter and let it suspend above the ground, but it had no outcome. Mythbusters thinks that the air removed by the birds’ wings and helicopter rotors pressurized the box, which explains why there was no weight change. Everything aligned with Newton’s third law.
15. Ninjas can catch arrows in midair.
Jame first shot arrows that she had blunted with tennis balls to Adam, who tried to grab them. He could do so, but they were moving at only a third of their usual speed. The two then shot arrows at full-speed. While a fake hand caught the arrow, Adam’s human side lacked the necessary strength.
16. A jet stream from a Boeing 747 can overturn a school bus.
The Mythbusters team hauled the school bus along the path of the 747 jet stream. The exhaust carried it off the ground. After several times it disintegrated completely.
17. One person can grab another who has jumped off an airplane with a parachute.
The Build Team conducted several minor tests with wind tunnels. Their assessments showed that things with a bigger surface area than others have a slower speed than those that were smaller, but had the same mass. During a full-scale test, Tory dived out of an airplane together with another diver. Nick, an expert skydiver, followed after 15 seconds. Nick passed them as Tory released his parachute. The team confirmed the myth.
18. Can you talk to someone while falling at great speed?
Grant leaped out of an airplane. A skydiver came to him as he fell and tried to say “Grant, if you pull my finger, you will hear a tuba.” As they fell, the instructor shouted these words many times, but Grant didn’t hear him as the sound of the rushing wind masked his voice. Consequently, the team concluded that people could not hold a conversation during a free fall.
19. You can haul a car with fire hoses.
The Mythbusters team conducted a minor experiment with a model car and a garden hose linked to a fire hose. It functioned well and showed that it was possible to lift a car with a hose. However, the team wanted to calculate thrust by using a machine. The hose couldn’t raise the vehicle. The pressure to do so was more than that of the water from the hose. It could only rise after they removed its engine.
20. A car that falls from 4000 feet moves faster than a car tearing down a road.
The team released a car from a crane to see how quickly it moved during free fall. They realized that it would fall randomly before hitting the ground. To prevent this, they distributed the car’s weight evenly. For the real test, they dropped it while a remote-controlled vehicle drove at 140 mph (225 km;h) The car could move only at 105 mph (169 km;h) They then cut the distance to 2950 ft (900 m). The falling car was faster than the ground car, but the team busted the myth after taking into account many considerations.
21. A person can break out of prison by firing his ball and chain with a cannon, boost himself over the jail barriers and still live.
The team got the measurements of a ball and chain for a person weighing about 170 lbs (77 kg). Tory then constructed a cannon with one shotgun shell that he packed with black powder. He managed to catapult the ball about 80 yards (73 m). Tory only managed to fly about six ft (1.8 m). He then tied a rope to arouse his hip joints and fired again. Buster’s leg came apart from his hip.
22. Cheese that’s shot from a cannon can penetrate a sail.
The Build Team assessed three types of cheeses. They took into account toughness and rubberiness. The group prepared a sail made of canvas and pelted it with one sample of cheese each. The least rubbery of the three kinds of cheese, Edam, did not destroy the sail. Gouda, the toughest of the three, shattered when it touched the sail. Garroba, with the right level of tenaciousness and pliancy, created a hole in the canvas while staying in one piece. Therefore, the Build Team confirmed the myth.
23. A person can leap from the top of a roof into a rubbish dump, get up, and walk.
After taking some lessons in stunt safety, they leaped on airbags from 15 and 20 ft (4 and 6 m) without hurting themselves. They discovered materials that would harm a descending person when they examined standard dumpsters. They used styrofoam and rubber packing to see if they would cushion a fall. Rubber foam worked best, so they used it for the full-scale test. The team then dropped Buster from about 20 ft (6 m) into a dump with rubber. The tests resulted in small gravitational forces, showing that a man could live after a fall. A man could live after falling into a dumpster because of the low g-force. Though this is possible, Mythbusters doesn’t recommend it because a person wouldn’t know if the materials in the trash compactor would harm him.
24. A gas tank for barbecues can become hot enough to propel through the ceiling of a garage.
The Build team made a makeshift garage and left a grill with a full tank in it. The team fueled it with charcoal and wood, ensuring that there was a roaring flame. They lit up the shed and allowed the gas to filter. The tank created a blast that scattered debris up to 300 ft (91m). The team then considered that it was possible to launch a rocket through the roof of a shed. But to convince themselves that it was the case, the team set up a pistol to fire into the tank. The weapon sent the tank spinning, showing that a gas tank could become a rocket if the conditions were right.
25. A 1970s car is more aerodynamic if you turn its body backwards
Adam and Jamie first placed a model car in a water chamber to watch the air current around it. They then calculated the amount of drag force need to pull it through a wind tunnel. The two men then moved the car backward at the fastest speed possible. They then challenged each other to race. Adam used the car with the reversed frame while Jamie used the unmodified car. Jamie finished first, leading them to think that back cars weren’t more aerodynamic.
26. Honey bees have the strength to carry a laptop.
Adam and Jamie put adhesive over a laptop. They then glued bees to it. Assessments showed that bees could carry 96 mg (0.0034 oz) of weight. The team speculated that it would take at least 23000 bees to lift the laptop. After measuring the laptop, the team discovered that it could only fit 2300 bees. The team busted the myth.
27. By flying in a V-formation like a flock of geese, airplanes can lessen the amount of fuel they use.
While on a visit to a bird sanctuary, Kari and Tori discovered that birds fly in a V-formation because the air pockets generated by the bird in front enables the others to flap their wings less often. Grant tested some model planes that Kari built in a NASA chamber. They arranged the planes in a V and found that the lead plane similar air pockets. The team met with an acrobatic flight group and found that forming a tight V would lessen the use of fuel. The team declared the myth confirmed.
28. A car fleet can produce enough dust to overcome an aerial surveillance vehicle.
The Build Team prepared a course shaped like a circle to model low visibility. Tory and three team members drove in four different cars. The team went around her to create dust, with one member pulling her into the car. Grant used a camera setup to work as a drone. He managed to film the process because there weren’t many dust clouds. The team declared the myth busted, but noted that it might work in different circumstances.
29. Light beer reaches the ground faster than a regular beer.
Status: They fall at the same time
The group placed six-pack cans of light and regular beers on a crane and dropped them from 100 ft (30 m) at the same time. Both packs landed at the same time.
30. You can play tennis while you fly.
The Build Team studied the plane the myth focuses on and found that it could fly slowly, at about 35 mph (56 km/h). The members learned to play tennis in both calm and turbulent conditions. They constructed wings, put them on a trailer, drove it at 35 mph (65 km/h) and managed to get about 12 hits in the air.
31. You can use a Corvette as a ramp to move into a barrel roll, like in the film Wanted.
The team first captured footage of cars to see if speed changed bumper height. The Corvette’s became lower while the Mustang’s bumper rose. The third test damaged both cars, though the Mustang did a barrel roll, busted the myth, but, the team added another ramp for further confirmation. The Mustang flipped while the Corvette sustained damage.
32. The way most airlines get passengers to board planes haphazardly.
The team constructed a makeshift passenger plane and departure gate. They then enlisted the help of volunteers. These people sat in their seats, with flight attendants assisting them with their luggage. Jamie rated the boarding systems as ‘Okay,’ ‘Great,’ and ‘terrible’. The team compared the results with standard rating systems. The systems with an ‘outside-in’ feature were most popular and had their seats filled quickly.
33. An aerial vehicle’s propellers can cause physical harm.
What Jamie did was to put a multirotor propeller on a long pole and spin it until it was fast enough to fly. It could go through a dead chicken carcass immediately.
As you can see, some of the thoughts we have about flight need debunking. Others have a lot of truth to them. Whether they’re fact or fiction, myths like these keep our fascination with flight alive.