The MacGyver Fact Check


One of our favorite things in the latest issue of mental_floss is Chris Higgins' wonderful MacGyver Fact Check. We had him analyze a whole bunch of episodes and determine just how plausible the escapes were. Here's just one of the stories that surprised us.


EPISODE: "The Heist," Season 1, Episode 5

Sticky Situation: A diamond-mogul villain has captured Mac and his most recent love interest in the cargo hold of an airplane. The villain cackles, "Take it up to 30,000 feet. The lack of oxygen will kill 'em!"

macg /

Conveniently, the cargo hold also contains a sports car and a comically oversized parachute. Mac attaches the parachute to the roadster (with its top down, of course), and then drives the car out of the airplane. The parachute releases just when oxygen levels are high enough to breathe. While gently floating to the ground, Mac makes out with his girlfriend and the credits roll.

Plausibility Meter: Surprisingly high!

First of all, the bad guy knows his science. At 30,000 feet, humans aren't getting enough oxygen and can suffer from hypoxia, a medical condition that can have fatal results. Climbers trying to reach the top of Mt. Everest (summit: 29,029 feet) often succumb to hypoxia, and that's after they've had days to acclimatize. As for the parachuting with the car, let's run the numbers: A sports car plus two passengers will add up to about 1.4 tons, and a large cargo parachute can easily handle two tons if dropped from that height. MacGyver and his lady friend can even put on a few pounds and still make the thing work.

Best For: Lovers

0805 /