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Do flies (or champagne bottles) explode at some altitude?

One instructor told me, during my PPL, that they go “pop” at 2000ft.

I can certainly disprove the 2000ft bit but they do seem to go hypoxic at some altitude.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Mosquitos live nicely up to 6000ft cabin altitude. They don’t like the cold though, so we found jackets and scarves with heat full cold killed the little sods. We both got munched heavily though – joys of Sicily in late summer.

London area

I had a pesky fly in the cockpit the other week. At 10000ft or so it started to become a bit lethargic and at 25000ft (yes, we were unpressurised at that altitude) I thought it had gone to meet it’s maker with the cockpit temperature being about -20 Celsius. A little over an hour later, and below about 8000ft, it returned.

I can confirm it did not explode

Fly safely
Various UK. Operate throughout Europe and Middle East, United Kingdom

We recently transported a fly from the Netherlands to Bavaria at FL120.

No harm came to the poor animal. After it annoyed us for the whole trip it flew away quite happily to enrich the local eco-system once we opened the doors back on the ground.

EDML - Landshut, Munich / Bavaria

Have had one of these

some times. It would sneak in when the door was left open for very little time. They are completely harmless (except I guess if they decide to fly in your eye on final). Usually they go sit in the back window seal and enjoy the ride. In Greece they are considered by the elders good fortune and can endure FL90.

LGMT (Mytilene, Lesvos, Greece), Greece

Not flying experience, but when hiking the flies seem more temperature than altitude dependent (the warmer it is, the higher they will be)…

Maybe he meant “frog” or “gerbil” (see: Joe Cartoon).

EPKP - Kraków, Poland

I bet this has to do with the high altitude flying. 2000ft is nose bleed territory

EGBE - Coventry, United Kingdom

Atmilatos…as you probably know, that insect is a hummingbird hawk moth. A wonderful little thing that thrives on nectar to run its wing engines at high rpm so as to imitate a hummingbird in terms of flight envelope. We get them in the UK too and I find it extraordinary to watch them fly between flowers and hover whilst their proboscises sucks up nectar. If only our planes were so maneuverable.

Wiki article on said creature

Flying a TB20 out of EGTR
Elstree (EGTR), United Kingdom

I would be very surprised if they did explode – why should they?

Only stuff filled with gas tends to explode if outside pressure reduces, since the pressure of a gas does not change much if the container expands a bit, so you get a large inside / outside pressure differential which puts stress on the container.

Liquids and solids are not really compressible (at least at atmospheric pressures), so you do not get any significant pressure build-up.

So unless there are gas bubbles with no way to equalise pressure with the outside contained within these insects, they won’t explode, even if you slowly reduce pressure to a vacuum. Otherwise – you would explode, too.

Biggin Hill

Cobalt wrote:

I would be very surprised if they did explode – why should they?

Oh yes, they do explode – any time they hit the propeller or airframe

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