dfwjim1
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Air Crash Victims

Thu Oct 31, 2013 4:51 am

A while back I was watching a documentary about the crash of AA 191 in Chicago and one of the investigators mentioned that many of the victims bodies were "vaporized". I have always thought that when something is vaporized it simply disappeared. Would this be the case in this crash (and possibly other ultra violent plane crashes) that many bodies "disappeared" or was the investigator using incorrect terminology?

I don't mean to be morbid but I was just curious as to whether or not a human body can "disappear" as a result of a very violent plane crash.

Thanks for your responses.
 
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Jetlagged
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RE: Air Crash Victims

Thu Oct 31, 2013 5:24 am

When something is vapourised it doesn't simply disappear, it is turned into a vapour. It changes state, but it's still there. Just as water is still there after boiling, but in the form of steam. Given enough heat this can happen to a human body. Whether it did or not in this case I have no idea, but it's possible.
The glass isn't half empty, or half full, it's twice as big as it needs to be.
 
northstardc4m
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RE: Air Crash Victims

Thu Oct 31, 2013 2:24 pm

In this case, I think the investigator was just misusing the term... as a lot of people do. To truly vaporize a human body would be a complicated difficult to achieve event.

More like "the bodies were crushed, torn, ripped, etc and burned to the extent that nothing is identifiable as human remains".

Maybe just trying to be less gruesome for the cameras as well...

Totally destroying a human body is actually a very energy intensive activity.
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ImperialEagle
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RE: Air Crash Victims

Thu Oct 31, 2013 9:52 pm

Quoting DFWJIM1 (Thread starter):
whether or not a human body can "disappear" as a result of a very violent plane crash.
Quoting Jetlagged (Reply 1):
but it's possible.

  

Quoting northstardc4m (Reply 2):
the bodies were crushed, torn, ripped, etc and burned to the extent that nothing is identifiable as human remains".

With all the metal/plastic composites, of the structure being ripped apart it is like putting everything through a wall of razor blades depending, of course, on the velocity at impact.

Quoting northstardc4m (Reply 2):
Totally destroying a human body is actually a very energy intensive activity.

True. And an aircraft diving towards a solid object will certainly qualify!

There have been more than a few accidents where the remains "disappeared". Some of the bodies on the NW L188 that plunged into the ground back in March of 1960 were never found. The fuselage dove straight into the frozen ground with such force that most of the fuselage accordianed and was just quickly converted to molten aluminum. In that process it was likely that there were remains that were "vapourized".

The TY DC-10 crash, back in 1974 outside of Paris. That aircraft went in at an angle-------into dense forest------at a very high rate of speed. Many remains were "vapourized" in that one the rest were chopped up like they had been through a blender or thrown into the trees. Quite a few were found still strapped into their seats. There were a lot of hands detached from their arms---still holding on to someone elses hand.

AC had a nasty one in the 1960's when a DC-8 dove into the ground at night in bad wx in Canada. Another one where there seemed to have been "vapourized" remains.

And the "Critter" DC-9 that dove into the everglades from the infamous cargo-hold fire.

These are just a few that come to mind.
"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough!"
 
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Jetlagged
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RE: Air Crash Victims

Fri Nov 01, 2013 3:02 am

Quoting northstardc4m (Reply 2):
In this case, I think the investigator was just misusing the term... as a lot of people do. To truly vaporize a human body would be a complicated difficult to achieve event.

Not really difficult, it just needs enough heat. It can happen in a nuclear fireball or in a fuel-air bomb explosion. The fireball that resulted from this crash might have been intense enough to vapourise some bodies.
The glass isn't half empty, or half full, it's twice as big as it needs to be.
 
ImperialEagle
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RE: Air Crash Victims

Fri Nov 01, 2013 11:49 am

Quoting Jetlagged (Reply 4):
in a fuel-air bomb explosion.

Yup. Combined with very high velocity.
"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough!"
 
rfields5421
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RE: Air Crash Victims

Fri Nov 01, 2013 12:26 pm

Quoting DFWJIM1 (Thread starter):
Would this be the case in this crash (and possibly other ultra violent plane crashes) that many bodies "disappeared" or was the investigator using incorrect terminology?

The fellow is using the term a bit incorrectly to minimize the technical details of what happened to the people / bodies.

It is extremely hard to completely destroy a human body. Intense fuel fires are perhaps the most destructive, especially if their is a high speed impact. All four of the 9/11 crashes left hundreds of families with no remains recovered.

The ValueJet crash into the Everglades was perhaps the worst crash site video I've seen. An entire aircraft disappeared into a small hole in the swamp.

I've seen several crash sites personally and the destruction which occurs is almost beyond description. At one crash of a US Navy single pilot aircraft at a training area near Clark AB in the Philippines, we recovered less than 3 pounds of human remains.
 
rfields5421
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RE: Air Crash Victims

Fri Nov 01, 2013 8:42 pm

We should also say that this accident was pre-DNA testing.

This article describes the view of first responders and that there were obviously bodies/ body parts. Enough was identified to send something of the body home for burial of all but 30 people from the flight.

http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20111014/news/710149919/

There is something called 'commingled remains' where the parts not positively identified an individual will be buried together. That occurs less today than in 1979.

I receive frequent notices in my DOD News feed about the identification of remains of soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen from WWII, Korea and Vietnam. Usually one per week. Frequently the remains had been buried as an unidentifiable group, and new DNA technology has made it possible to positively identify the individuals.
 
AR385
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RE: Air Crash Victims

Fri Nov 01, 2013 9:37 pm

Can C be vaporized? That´s the last thing that remains after something organic burns intensely. If it can be vaporized, then bodies in a crash certainly can.
 
LH707330
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RE: Air Crash Victims

Fri Nov 01, 2013 9:45 pm

Quoting AR385 (Reply 8):
Can C be vaporized?

You mean carbon? Per wikipedia, it's triple point is 4600 K, so you can't get it to vaporize, but if you have enough oxygen it'll certainly burn in a ~2000 K fuel fire.
 
AR385
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RE: Air Crash Victims

Fri Nov 01, 2013 10:02 pm

Quoting LH707330 (Reply 9):
You mean carbon? Per wikipedia, it's triple point is 4600 K, so you can't get it to vaporize, but if you have enough oxygen it'll certainly burn in a ~2000 K fuel fire.

Yes, Carbon. I should have been less pedantic. If you can´t get it to vaporize, then no, bodies can´t be vaporized.
 
FlightShadow
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RE: Air Crash Victims

Sun Nov 03, 2013 6:25 am

Quoting northstardc4m (Reply 2):
Totally destroying a human body is actually a very energy intensive activity.

Hopefully this is not too morbid, but I think it's applicable to the question at hand. I'm not a professional, but having been acquainted with the cremation process: In a crematorium, an intense gas flame is focused directly at a body in a large burning chamber. The temperature in the chamber can be regulated, but 1800 degrees Fahrenheit is not uncommon.

Depending on the size and body composition, the body may need to be exposed to the heat for upwards of an hour. This flame is not the equivalent of hot metal igniting thousands of pounds of Jet A all at once, per se, but imagine an hour of exposure to a large 1800 degree flame . . . and there is still ash left over.

As many others have already said, under certain circumstances, a body can "disappear." But "vaporize" would rarely be the technically correct term.
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