iPhone 4 plunges 1,000 feet from airplane – still works perfectly

“Late last night, we received an email from U.S. Air Force Combat Controller Ron Walker, who wrote to share an incredible story about his iPhone 4,” Dave Caolo reports for TUAW.

“Airman Walker’s duties as a jump master require him to ensure that his aircraft is the the proper location before sending parachute jumpers into the air,” Caolo reports. “One week ago (on March 16), he stuck his body out of the open door to look for landmarks as the plane sped through the air at 130 knots (about 150 m.p.h.). As he did, the Velcro seal on his pocket flew open, and out popped his iPhone.”

Caolo reports, “Not only was the iPhone undamaged, Airman Walker reports, it was in perfect working order — ‘not a scratch on it, not even dirty.'”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Manny S.” and “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


    1. The drag force depends on the square of the velocity. So as the body accelerates its velocity and the drag increase. It quickly reaches a point where the drag is exactly equal to the weight. When drag is equal to weight, there is no net external force on the object, and the acceleration becomes zero. The object then falls at a constant velocity as described by Newton’s first law of motion. The constant velocity is called the terminal velocity.
      Falling into a pile of dead leafs also helps

      1. If it was flipping end over end or side over side, wouldn’t it slow down even more? For example, take a paint stick or pencil and throw it in such a way that it will “buzz” or rotate about it’s access length in a high rate of speed and it will fly.

        That is, flap your arms hard enough and you might land softer if you fell out of a plain.

  1. My daughter’s 6 mos old 3GS with an Otter Box case didn’t survive a three foot fall…off her number…going down the road…and found the next day by a person that contacted us.

    He found it on the side of the road, glass completely shattered, LCD cracked. Been ran over, I guess.

    Plugged it in and was able to get the alarm I sent via MobileMe. Then at 6 AM this morning the alarm went off.

    I already upgraded it to a 4, but I’m still going to try to repair it.

    1. My 6 yr old lost the iPhone 3G I gave him to use as an iPod. I sent it mobile me messages and remote locked it but could not locate it through mobile me. Three weeks later I was walking in the grass ouside the house and say this thing lying in the grass. It was the iPhone lying face down. When I picked it up half the screen looked white like it had liquid in it and this would make sense because it rained hard at least twice in the two weeks since it was lost. I tookma chance and plugged it into the charger in the garage just inncase it caught fire. Well, in about a minute it started beeping which scared the crap out of me. It turned out that it had powered up and received the lost my iPhone info I had sent it two weeks before. It had connected to the house wifi so it got all the messages plus the remote lock. My son is now using the phone without any problems with the screen or the operation of the software. The only problem was the apple logo that peeled off the back due to the sun and rain exposure.

    2. Different daughters living in a parallel universe. I had to replace my daughter’s 3GS when it dropped out of her purse onto a classroom floor (under a 3′ drop). It had replaced the one that fell in the toilet. I’m going broke buying her iPhones, but she’s in college and would cease breathing without it. Maybe her current iPhone 4 stands a fighting chance.

      1. I soooo understand and identify with you. The best one was when she dropped into a glass of water. Yikes. Two others were stolen. Double yikes. One was a return….not her fault. And one just stopped…I think it was a result of the broken glass front (honest dad, I do not know how it got there) and some water infiltration from the humid bathroom where she showers (the Apple tech showing me the red water tags in the phone).

    3. I’ve had to fix my 3gs screen after dropping it and used directfix.com. You can get the entire touch panel and lcd bundled together which makes it an easy swap. they’re tutorial videos are pretty good too. no i don’t work for them

  2. Mine fell three feet and it cracked – indoors. Really flimsy construction. This article neglects to say what this iPhone was encased in and the story is thus totally misleading. In fact, it’s dishonest.

    1. Try reading the full article before you go off on a rant.
      I’m sure the Griffin case mentioned helped as well as landing in a forested area – could easily have been slowed down by trees on the way.

    2. Your assumption that your case is the norm or even representative is wrong. Your conclusion that the article is misleading or dishonest is based on that assumption. Single anecdotal cases, unfortunately, are not useful for creating useful assumptions, despite that being the method we are taught from an early age.

      My iPhone 4, without a case, fell onto the street from pocket level. It was run over by a passing car. No scratches. My conclusion: it is possible for iPhone 4’s to survive falling three feet, but YMMV.

        1. yeah. its annoying as hell. my iPad, mom’s iPad, my iPhone mom’s iPhone…. all have the same settings. but my iPhone wont auto correct in safari (only, works everywhere else)

          May have to reset the iPhone to factory and see if something is just screwed up.

  3. The story is probably fake. An “airman” is a junior enlisted (E-4 or below) in the Air Force. A jumpmaster is usually a senior parachutist — i.e. a senior enlisted or officer.

    Where do we have Air Force people jumping out of airplanes right now? Probably nowhere except school. Army, Marine Corps, and Special Forces may be doing real world jumps outside a school environment over in Bush’ and Obama’s conflicts. Each of these groups has its own jumpmasters even if the Air Force provided the plane.

    Could be wrong, but I don’t think the Air Force has ATVs. I doubt the other three groups mentioned would lend out theirs to retrieve a phone. Also, the distance away (only 2 miles) doesn’t make sense if the plane was traveling at some point at 130 knots plus whatever speed to reach that point.

    1. Why would you assume that these guys were down range and NOT at a school. Being at a school house with this incident happening during a training event actually makes a lot more sense than a real-world event. And ATV just means All Terrain Vehicle. The AirForce certainly has those. Regardless, the ATV in question could have been privately owned.

    2. Air force doesn’t have atv’s?….
      I guess the dozen or so my parents sold to the local airbase here don’t exist either. And I know 2 of them went to Afghanistan.
      My parents were yamaha dealers, and they were paid by DoD accounts.

      The part of the story I find questionable, the no dirt/scratch part. Rest I can believe.

    3. I suggest that you avail yourself of the information available on the www about the role of an Air Force Combat Controller. Also note that an aircraft doesn’t always mean airplane. It’s obvious that you speak before thinking. There is a world of information that is just waiting for you. Enlighten your self and make more informed post.. And by the way the Air Force also has some boats…. Why bring any politician into the matter ??

    4. A Combat Controller and ATV go together like a Marine and a rifle. Thats how these dudes get around. I have worked with them and seen them. Comes with the job.

      Though very rare, you CAN be an E-4 (corporal) and be a Jumpmaster, provided you have the required prerequisites in experience. I completed Jumpmaster school as an E-5 in the Army.

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