WTF Fun Fact 13358 – The Black Box Is Not Black

You might have heard the term “the black box” in the context of airplane accidents. It’s what they look for after a crash because it holds information about the plane and its communications.

But did you know the so-called black box is actually bright orange? The reason is obvious, of course. The color makes it easier to locate.

The history of the black box

In the early days of aviation, there was little information available to investigators after airplane accidents. And this lack of data hindered the development of safety measures. So the industry found a way to collect the flight data they needed – even after a catastrophic accident.

In 1953, an Australian scientist named Dr. David Warren invented a device capable of recording flight data and cockpit conversations. He named his invention the “Flight Memory Unit.” This would eventually be known as “the black box.”

The box is formally referred to as the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR). The FDR logs essential flight parameters, like altitude, airspeed, and vertical acceleration. Meanwhile, the CVR captures audio from the cockpit, including conversations between pilots and air traffic control. Together, these devices provide a comprehensive account of a flight’s final moments. This allows investigators to piece together the causes of an accident.

Why is the box actually orange?

The device is not black, but orange, making it easier to spot amongst the wreckage. It’s also equipped with an Underwater Locator Beacon (ULB), which emits a signal for up to 30 days.

The box is very durable. It’s engineered to withstand extreme conditions, starting with the impact of a crash. It also goes through drop tests, crush tests, and fire tests.

So, the real question is actually “How did an orange box become known as a black box?”

The term “black box” is believed to have originated from journalists and the media, rather than from aviation experts or engineers. The origin of the term remains unclear. But in the early days of the black box, its inner workings and the data it recorded were not understood by the public. As a result, the media coined the term as a way to describe something mysterious.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “Orange is the new black: the history of the ‘black box’” —

WTF Fun Fact 12623 – Is There A Doctor In The House?

We’re not sure whether to call Dorothy Fletcher lucky or not. After all, she suffered a heart attack in the middle of a transatlantic flight from Manchester to Florida on November 7, 2009. That’s unfortunate. But, on the other hand, there were 15 cardiologists on board when it happened.

When the stewardess asked if there were any doctors on board, the 15 experts volunteered their service.

Well, they didn’t just wait around to be called on, rather the story seems to claim they all ran to her side to try and help. Using an onboard medical kit, they were able to control the heart attack, save her life, and get a drip into her arm.

Later, she said:

“I couldn’t believe what happened. All these people came rushing down the aircraft towards me. The doctors were wonderful. They saved my life. My daughter was with me and you can imagine how she felt when all these doctors stood up. I wish I could thank them but I have no idea who they were, other than that they were going to a conference in Orlando.”

The plane had to be diverted to North Carolina so that the 67-year-old could get immediate hospital care

Mrs. Fletcher was treated in the intensive care unit at Charlotte Medical Centre and stayed for two days. She had been traveling to attend her daughter’s wedding. And she did make it to the nuptials on time the following week in Lake Berkeley, Kissimmee. – WTF fun facts

Source: “Heart Attack Woman On Plane – 15 Cardiologists On Board” — Medical News Today

WTF Fun Fact #12394

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt became friends with “First Lady of the Air” Amelia Earhart 1932. That was the same year of Earhart’s famous nonstop trans-Atlantic flight.

On April 20, 1933, they attended a formal dinner at the White House when Earhart got a little restless and suggested they go on an adventure. The feminist trailblazers grabbed some friends and slipped out of the event in their ballgowns. Then they hopped on a plane to spice up the evening at Earhart’s suggestion.

The plan was to travel to Baltimore and back before dessert, and they headed to the air hangar at Hoover Field and hopped aboard one of Eastern Air Transport’s twin-engine Curtiss Condor planes.

Two of the airplane company’s pilots had to operate the plane, but the women managed to nudge them aside at some point and took over the cockpit, acting as pilot and co-pilot for at least part of the flight.

After the short trip, the Secret Service ushered everyone back to the dinner.

Of course, Earhart would eventually go on her ill-fated trip around the world in 1937, from which she never returned. Roosevelt continued her humanitarian deeds until her death in 1962.

When speaking about their adventurous evening, Roosevelt told The Baltimore Sun: “It does mark an epoch, doesn’t it, when a girl in an evening dress and slippers can pilot a plane at night.” – WTF Fun Facts

Source: Pilots in Evening Gowns: When Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt Took to the Skies — A Mighty Girl

WTF Fun Fact – Ford Made 25 Bombers A Day

WTF Fun Fact - Ford Made 25 Bombers A Day

 At the peak of production during World War 2, Ford Motor Company produced a B-24 Liberator airplane every 63 minutes at the Willow Run assembly plant. Each bomber was made of 488,193 individual parts. – WTF Fun Facts