I've got it all figured out.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ask the Magic Internet a Stupid Question No. 13

I’m back from the grave!

And what better way to ease back into the tepid bath that is The Creepshow than by dusting off and revving up the old interweb and asking it something stupid.

During my travels I did quite a bit of flying in aero planes. For those of you unfamiliar with such devices, these are big long cigar tube shaped things with wings on them. Inside they look like nicer versions of the bus. There are seats and seat belts and little TVs hanging from the ceiling that play Shrek 2. For more on airplane interiors see this complete fucking idiot that wasted $50,000 and 20 years of his life turning his garage into one from the 70s.

So you get in this airplane dealy. It makes a really loud wooshing noise and shakes a bit. Then you sit back and drink a 5 dollar/4 euro/3 pound can of Stella and watch Shrek 2. Later they bring you what you think is a model kit but it’s actually food.

Sort of.

You eat it because you’re bored and then a few hours later the airplane shakes and makes the loud wooshing noise again and you’re some place completely different! It’s kind of like an elevator but more complicated, I think. I don’t know. Who am I, Johnny Otis Wright Brother? You figure it out brainiacs!

File Photo: You.

I’ll tell you one thing I do know though. If you’re on an airplane, try to avoid the bathroom. As soon as that seatbelt light turns off an unholy army of peanut bladdered old people leap from their seats like a televangelist audience. Then they Night of the Living Dead it up the aisle to surround the bathrooms for the next hour and a half. When the great piss rush finally tapers off the stragglers are left stranded behind the meal cart, shifting from brittle hip to hip worrying aloud to no one in particular about wither or not their meal will be at their seat when they get back.

Never mind a fence. You Yankees should line the Mexican border with these babies. Nothing gets past them.

Then as soon as that cart’s gone it’s time for the after dinner shift. These are the oafs that ate at the overpriced T.G.I.Fuckface’s or whatever it’s called in the airport and polished off theirs and their wives chicken mushsala on the plane.

Let me out honey, I’m growing a tail here!

Unless you want to spend the rest of your vacation drawing on your eyebrows and choking on a hard lump of scar tissue that used to be your gag reflex, you’re not going in there any time soon after that.

They should make these things with a longer cord.

If you really can’t hold it and you have to venture in to one of these little death closets, there is one saving grace. The flush. The flush on airplanes never seems to change. It still has that satisfying, cleansing suction sound that tells you that yours and everyone else’s waste is now free falling somewhere over the Atlantic ocean.

Insert your Keanu Reeves acting ability/Point Break joke here.

Or does it? Let’s give the old CPU a rub and see.

Question No. 13: Do airplanes really dump passengers waste out over the ocean? Or over land even?!

Plop. Plop. Fizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Brrrrrp. Plop. Plop. Wooooooooooosh Ding!

Magic Internet Answer: You woke me for this?! I was having the most delightful dream where I operated in a world without Justin Bieber (not Beaver). I was using all the free time I had to solve world hunger. But now it’s back to work as usual. Juggling stupid questions from you with about 10,000 requests for pictures of an 85 pound boy without his shirt on. I never thought I’d say it but I think I actually miss that revolting dancing infant from 1995.

No. No! I was wrong. Arggh, get it away! It burns!

Few, I guess I brought that on myself. Let us expel that ghastly beast and replace it with knowledge. The answer to your question that is. And the answer is quite simple. No. No commercial plane intentionally evacuates its passengers waste mid flight. It is an impossibility. I think, Johnny, that you have viewed Joe Dirt one too many times. And that is truly sad.

Lets examin just how commercial aircraft toilets work. That suction sound as you described it is not the sound of your waste being sucked out into the open atmosphere (or the sound of Keanu Reeves acting in Point Break Ba-dum-dum. Ting!). It is in fact the sound of the most crucial element in the design of aircraft toilets, a vacuum. Most toilets use gravity in the elimination of waste where the weight of the water and the user’s excretions aid in the flushing of the toilet. Aircraft have limited space so the toilets they use have vacuums to assist in flushing. This means that they use less water to flush and that the pipes can be narrower and vertical because gravity is not needed to move waste from the toilet. Suction does it all. This suction is quite powerful too.

Once the passenger waste has been sucked out of the toilet it’s held in a storage tank until the plane lands. Then it is pumped out of the aircraft by the ground crew with the aid of a specialized vehicle.

Probably not this one.

The valve for the removal of aircraft toilet waste is located on the outside of the aircraft and can only be accessed from the outside. The pilot has no mechanism that can open this valve from inside the aircraft. Therefore it is impossible for planes to deliberately dump passenger waste while in flight. That’s not to say that it doesn’t happen unintentionally from time to time. Occasionally aircrafts get leaks in their lavatory waste tanks. This can cause a mixture of biowaste and blue liquid disinfectant to seep out and accumulate on the outside of the plane as it freezes. This is most commonly referred to as blue ice.

If your version of Cool Water smells like used Stella and old people piss, you may want to think about firing your perfumer.

The high velocity of the plane and gravity can sometimes cause these accumulations of blue ice to detach from the aircraft and fall to earth. This most commonly occurs under airport landing paths as the blue ice warms sufficiently to detach during decent. The United States alone has recorded at least 27 incidents of blue ice impacts between 1970 and 2003, some of which caused considerable damage.

There are no recorded deaths from blue ice but that didn’t stop the HBO television series Six Feet Under from using it for just that purpose.

I believe that should answer your query sufficiently Johnny. If you wish to know more about aircraft waste management and some of the myths associated with it, please refer to this FAA fact sheet titled: It Came From the Sky.

Thanks Magic I. Wouldn’t it be great if a big chunk of that blue ice landed right on that idiot Anthony Toth’s garage and ruined his stupid Pan Am 747 cabin? Preferably while he’s playing stewardess to some bewildered guests.

Anthony Toth: Those are all original hits from the 70s that you’re hearing in your authentic Pan Am headsets. That’s Foreigner’s Cold As Ice playing right now. It peaked at number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1977.

Bored Uncomfortable Guest: Uhuh. Umm wow, that’s great Anthony and you said all this cost you how much?

Anthony Toth: Oh about $50,000 and 20 years of my life. Would you like some ice with your Johnny Walker? That’s an authentic Pan Am glass, napkin and swizzle stick by the way.

Bored Uncomfortable Guest: Uhhh, sure. As long as it's not from the 70s too.

Blue Ice: KERSMASHO!!!!

Bored Uncomfortable Guest (raising his glass): Gentlemen, to irony.

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