Placeholder on the 'Let's Open the Airplane Windows' Quote

I've just re-entered Internet land after 24+ hours out of contact. (Previous two posts were in the queue for publication at set intervals. Thus I didn't see and fix typos in them until just now.) On re-entry I see the news about the possible electrical fire that forced Ann Romney's plane into an emergency landing a few days ago. Plus a mailbox full of queries about Mitt Romney's response to the incident:

"When you have a fire in an aircraft, there's no place to go, exactly, there's no -- and you can't find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don't open. I don't know why they don't do that. It's a real problem. So it's very dangerous. And she was choking and rubbing her eyes. Fortunately, there was enough oxygen for the pilot and copilot to make a safe landing in Denver. But she's safe and sound."

The whole topic of electrical fires in airplanes is more interesting than you'd think. More about it within a few hours. Spoiler: I don't think that Mitt Romney is confused about why airplane windows cannot be opened at high altitude, but I do think that his larger relationship with the world of airborne travel is interesting. In the meantime, I'll use this as an excuse to direct you to Patrick Smith's new Ask the Pilot site. For many years Smith did a successful, instructive, and entertaining "Ask the Pilot" column on Salon, which I read frequently and often directed people toward. He doesn't yet have an item about Air Romney at the new site, but he's a great source for aviation topics generally.

Back in touch in a few hours.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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