iPhone survives 16,000-foot fall after door plug blows off Alaska Air flight 1282

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The iPhone that fell from Alaska Airlines flight 1282, discovered by Seanathan Bates under a bush on the side of the road.
Enlarge / The iPhone that fell from Alaska Airlines flight 1282, discovered by Seanathan Bates under a bush on the side of the road.

On Sunday, game developer Seanathan Bates discovered a working iPhone that fell 16,000 from Alaska Airlines flight 1282 on Friday. Flight 1282 suffered an explosive decompression event when a door plug blew off the plane. No one was injured during the incident. The iPhone wasn’t injured, either—still unlocked and with a torn charging cable connector plugged in, it appeared largely undamaged and displayed information that matched the flight.

“Found an iPhone on the side of the road,” wrote Bates in a post on X. “Still in airplane mode with half a battery and open to a baggage claim for #AlaskaAirlines ASA1282 Survived a 16,000 foot drop perfectly in tact!”

The discovery location of the iPhone that fell from Alaska Airlines flight 1282.
Enlarge / The discovery location of the iPhone that fell from Alaska Airlines flight 1282.

After the discovery, Bates contacted the National Transportation Safety Board, which took possession of the device and told him the iPhone was the second phone that had been found from the flight. During a press conference on Sunday, NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy confirmed that two people had discovered cell phones that fell from flight 1281. The other cell phone was discovered in someone’s yard.

The decompression event started when a door plug used to cover an unused exit door on the Boeing 737 Max 9 unexpectedly detached from the plane. Rapid decompression can suck passengers and objects violently out of an aircraft due to air pressure differences. While no people fell out of the plane, the loose iPhone apparently got ripped away while charging. “In case you didn’t see it, there was a broken-off charger plug still inside it! Thing got *yanked* out the door,” wrote Bates in his X post.

The iPhone that fell from Alaska Airlines flight 1282 had a ripped charging connector still plugged into it.
Enlarge / The iPhone that fell from Alaska Airlines flight 1282 had a ripped charging connector still plugged into it.

iPhones surviving harrowing drops from sky-heights aren’t unheard of. In May, AppleInsider reported on a skydiver’s iPhone that survived a 14,000 fall from a plane. Given air resistance that limits an object’s descent speed and landings in a soft spot like moist dirt or mud, the survivals aren’t entirely surprising. Landing on a hard surface would likely be a different story, however.

At the time of the iPhone’s discovery, the search was still on for the missing door plug, but the plug has since been found. Compared to the apparent ease of discovering two small cell phones first, a Hacker News commenter quipped, “Boeing needs ‘Find My Door.'”

There is no word yet on whether the iPhone has been reunited with its owner.

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