This popular YouTube video which is about surviving when jumping from a plane with the parachute failing says at 1:03:

You're looking for 3 things: Swamps, snow, trees. Your best chance of surviving is to land in one of those 3. Just stay away from water. Whatever you do, don't land in the water!


(You'll die.)

being written on the screen.

I wasn't able to find much about this on the internet but it seems straight-forward that landing in a swamp or in deep snow is better than landing in water. But is landing in trees better than landing in water?

Nicholas Alkemade landed in trees and survived. I don't know whether anyone else did and didn't find anything regarding water.

  1. Is it possible to survive a free fall from great hight when landing in water?
  2. Does landing in trees increase your chances of survival as compared to landing in water?
  3. Have people survived landing in a swamp after freely falling from great heights?

Kind of related question (regarding drowning when landing in water; but I suppose also relevant when landing in a swamp or in snow): Are survivors of such falls generally conscious shortly after impact?

  • 1
    Considering that jumping from bridges is a fairly common method of committing suicide, so much so that some bridges have suicide prevention hotline phone numbers on them, I am not at all skeptical of this claim.
    – phoog
    Oct 27 '17 at 21:53
  • 2
    As comment, since no references: When falling from a great height, humans reach a velocity where aerodynamic drag matches the force of gravity: this is the terminal velocity, and is reached after 60 m or so of falling. The terminal velocity for a person is >200 km/h; hitting a body of water perpendicularly at that speed would be uniformly fatal, since at that speed given the viscosity of water the impact is essentially the same as hitting a cement floor. People have (rarely) survived by hitting trees and hitting snowy slopes; don't know about swamps (maybe swamp grass cushions you?)
    – antlersoft
    Oct 27 '17 at 22:07
  • 1
    @UTF-8 look up some news articles and you'll see that the bodies are generally retrieved from the water.
    – phoog
    Oct 27 '17 at 22:13
  • 3
    The Golden Gate Bridge is ~220 feet off the water (~80MPH impact) and while falling / jumping is not invariably fatal (modernluxury.com/san-francisco/story/kevin-hines-still-alive), the the fatality rate is 98% (Wikipedia). Terminal velocity takes ~1500 feet, but OTOH the question relates to a person striving to survive, so they might adopt the skydiving "modified frog position" in which you drop at ~120MPH. But OTOH you definitely don't want to land flat, so you probably need to tuck into a foot-first impact (I'd guess), which means you'd be going somewhat faster than 120. Oct 27 '17 at 23:59
  • 1
    @antlersoft - What Larry OBrien said -- terminal velocity is highly dependent on the body's alignment. I recall reading once that the velocity could be reduced to less than 100mph by falling spread-eagle. But, as Larry says, the trick is to then shift to a foot-first alignment before entering the water. Oct 28 '17 at 1:15

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