The MythBusters The MythBusters

MythBusters Episode 230: Flights of Fantasy

Premier Date: July 25, 2015

The Lockheed U-2 reconnaissance plane is harder to fly and land safely than any other type of aircraft in the world.


Adam and Jamie traveled to Beale Air Force Base for a week-long orientation and passenger training program. They learned about the challenges that U-2 crews face, including long missions at altitudes over 50,000 feet (15,000 m), technical issues during takeoff and landing, and being able to move and work while wearing high-altitude pressure suits. The plane only had space for one passenger; noting Adam’s enthusiasm for the U-2, Jamie allowed him to take the flight.

As the plane flew a practice mission to a maximum altitude of 70,000 feet (21,000 m), Adam commented on the crew’s activities during all phases of the flight. During the landing, the pilot’s limited visibility required a second pilot to follow him in a chase car and talk him down, with Jamie riding along. Due to the difficulties associated with the specialized aircraft, Adam and Jamie classified the myth as plausible.

An unmanned multirotor in flight can inflict a severe injury with its propellers.


At the workshop, Jamie mounted a multirotor propeller on a long pole, spun it up to flight speed, and was able to cut a deep gash in a plucked chicken carcass. Adam then built a neck analog from ballistic gelatin with embedded vinyl tubing “veins,” mounted it at a proper human height, and filled it with simulated blood. Jamie steered two different commercially-available multirotors – one with four propellers, then six – toward the neck; in each case, the blades bent and the craft fell to the floor without causing any noticeable injury.

For a final test, Jamie had one of the camera operators pilot an eight-propeller craft he had built to hold a video camera. It fell to the floor upon striking the neck, but the blades (made of carbon-fiber instead of the plastic used in the store-bought models) cut into one of the veins. He and Adam declared the myth plausible, noting that while small store-bought models are designed with safety in mind, larger custom-built models can pose a real danger.