Re: Toilet sucks in child

Date:         27 Jan 97 02:45:56 
From:         "Brian A. Reynolds" <>
Organization: Rockwell Avionics - Collins
References:   1 2
Followups:    1
Next article
View raw article
  or MIME structure

Gary Moffitt wrote:
> > On 7 Jan 1997, a South African Airways  A320 [Flight SA327] flight
> > from Johannesburg to Cape Town, the pilot had to decrease altitude in
> > order for a 9 year old child to be pulled free from the toilet by a
> > doctor that was on board after it had sucked her in.
> > Two questions arise from this :

> I am highly skeptical of the incident descibed. The child would have to
> fall completely into the bowl and seal the outlet completely for the
> described incident to have occurred.  Urban folklore rumors the same to
> have occurred to extremely obese using vacuum toilets, I have never seen
> one of these cases substantiated.

Good point Gary.  One primary difference between an urban legend and fact
is the use of verifiable names, dates, and other evidence; inlcuding s
pecifics.  Soooo.. here goes. (Not It think that this is the 'mother
source' of all the stuck on toilet stories floating around.

- start story -

At 1700 GMT between Jan Smute and Kane at 18,500 feet Capt. JA Dademan
(traveling supernumbery) reported to me in the cockpit that an 'old lady
was screming becasue she was dtuck down on a tourist lavatory seat and
the hostess could not free her.'  Thinking the joke was in rather poor
taste, I made some derogatory commend intending to dismiss the matter.
However, this merely served to change Capt. Rademans's already eranest
expression to one of alram at my lighthaeartness, and I realized soemthing
might well be seriously amiss.

A further verbal exchange convince me:  but what shoud be done to free
her?  Emergency depresurization at 18,500 feet would be rather dramatic,
so we decided to try increasing cabin altitude to reduce the pressure
differential between the inside and outside of the toilet pail.  At our
altitude there was a presure differential of all but five pounds per square
inch.  Over a total approzimate area of 80 square inchs (the area of the
top of the pail), it ment that she was being sucked down by an equivalent
weight of 400 pounds, in addition to her own weight.  It is small wonder
that Miss Hoorn, travel hostess, who together with a lady passenger had
been trying to help, remarked afterwards: "Gee, I tried my best to pull
her off but I wasn't strong enought.

Before cabin pressure had decreased appreciably, news of a dramtic rescue
was brought to the flight deck by Capt. Rademon, who was, by this time,
quite excited and fully absormed in his self-appointed role as a purveyor
of profress reports to the cockpit.  His nes was to the effect that we
had an undaunted strong man in the crew.  First Officer Lamprect had
succeeded , by a process of doubling the harassed lady forward and pulling
also, in dislodging her to the accompaniment of loud sucking noises as
air rushed by to equalize the pressure.

Mr. Lamprecht exclaimed afterwards that he had first attempted to lift
her, but this was impossible  and only caused emarressment.  "She was a
firm as a rock' he said.  Next, in order to obtain the leverage to double
her forward and pull at the same time, being tall, he placed on foot
against the compartment wall behind the lady, and with hsi arms around
here, succedded in wrenching her free.

The cause of the trouble was that Mrs. Huston had seated herself directly
on the metal part of the toilet pan without first lowering the seat.

When apologizing to Mrs. Huston afterwards when she had recovered from
her experience, she remarked that she was 'terrified of being sucked right
through and out os the aircraft as I had no parachute.'  Also: 'I thought
that my insides were being drawn out.'  Fortunately she was very good
humored after the event, but no amount of explaining what had gone wrong
would induce her to visit the toilet again unaccompanied.

Something need to be done about these toileast as they may be even more
dangerous to childers.

To prevent a recurrance of this nature we have drilled five quarter inch
holes with half-inch spacing just forward of the hinge line of the seat
and covered these with a joggling strip revited to the container to prevent
the holes from beincoming blocked.


This was an SAS DC-7B, and while the story is not dated, it is stated
to have occured during the introductory period of the DC-7B into service.

I have heard this story retold many times, but never with this level of
detail, therefore I do tend to believe this is a true account of a real
incident.  In more modern vacuum toilets (the one in the DC-7B is more
like a porta-potty in the sky), I don't believe that it would be possible
to become 'stuck on the john' for more then a brief period of time.