iPhone survives 1,000 foot drop from an Air Force plane

Okay, how impressive is it that U.S. Air Force Combat Controller Ron Walker's iPhone 4 survived a 1,000 foot drop from an airplane without a scratch on it?

The plane was traveling at 130 knots (roughly 150 mph) when he stuck his body out of the plane door to look for landmarks. At that point, one of his pockets opened and his iPhone took flight before plunging to the ground. “Well, guess I’ll be buying a new phone,” he thought to himself, and continued on with his duties.

He and a friend later used Find my iPhone and some ATVs to hunt down his iPhone 4. He did have a Griffin Motif TPU case and an aftermarket metal backing (so my worries about the glass back haven't been alleviated!), but that's still very impressive.

What's the worst fall your iPhone 4 has survived unscathed?



Senior Editor at iMore and a practicing therapist specializing in stress and anxiety. She speaks everywhere from conferences to corporations, co-host of Vector and Isometric podcasts, follow her on Twitter @Georgia_Dow and check out her series at anxiety-videos.com.

  • Fake!
  • Haha, his pocket opened.
    He thought "Well I guess..." instead of "OMG..." or some other form of exclamation!
    It fell 1,000 feet, from an airplane...onto a bed of feathers.
    The question is not: "What's the worst fall your iPhone 4 fell unscathed?", but why is Tipb posting this?
  • Thats a bunch of bull sh*t
  • Unless it landed on a Steve Jobs's pillow
  • That is some bull!!! I dropped mine, three days after I got it, a foot from the ground and the front glass shattered.
  • Same here. that iphone must have fallen on a bed of ferns or banana leaves. I dropped mine from waist high and the front glass shattered.
  • Did it also do a double backflip and land in a glass of water?
  • Wonder what else he has dropped out of the plane? With all the computer tech on the plane, and even the basic map app on the iPhone, they have to look out the door fir landmarks. Funny.
  • Combat Controllers are Air Force Special Ops who specialize in things such as setting up landing strips/zones in hostile territory and serving as air traffic controllers at those locations. This requires doing visual reconnaissance of the areas from the air prior to deploying to the ground. Google maps is not an option. I'm a Airborne Mission Systems Specialist(the ones who operate all that computer tech on the planes) and we are part of the crews that fly the Controllers into and out of said denied territory.
  • 100% believable.
    To me this sounds like an Army Jumpmaster doing what we do best. 130kts, 1000ft, doing his PWAC and final clear to the rear at the 30 sec mark. I'm gonna go ahead and say c130 and I'll also go out on a limb and say sicily drop zone at fort Bragg! Lots of soft soft sand there, phone could easily survive, once the phone hit terminal velocity it hit terminal velocity. Whether it was 1000ft or 13,500 ft.
  • Wow that is 100% false.
  • I dropped my first gen with a case on it a whopping 12 inches while kneeling on to a wrestling mat, thats right an inch thick foam mat that my kids head falls on all day in practice and it shattered. How's his survive that?
  • I find that even harder to believe than the Air Force story…!? My 1st gen iPhone survived all kinds of falls and tumbles without a case, the worst being a drop from about 1.5 meters, bouncing of a metal pipe and landing on the hardwood floor -- not even a scratch on it…!
    I've since then had a 3G and a 3GS and now a 4 and even though some of those devices (the 4 not so much) have been dropped a few times none ever cracked or shattered or took any significant damage…
  • I dropped my iPhone 4 about 5 feet, flat onto the concrete floor... of an Apple Store. Almost gave the manager a heart attack! It was fine though.
  • Apple store flooring is rubber. Its kind of like what you'll find in newer model restaurant kitchens, like what is in mine. But it is definitely not concrete.
  • I have smashed three iphone screens by dropping them from a normal standing height on to the ground. But with my old 3gs I dropped it off a balcony where it fell five floors on to a concrete driveway. I thought it was a lost cause so didn't bother getting it for hours. When I was leaving I went to pick up the pieces only to find it was working perfectly. One corner is slightly pulled apart but I still use it as my second phone when travelling.
  • Clearly you are very accident-prone and have more money than sense, then. Am I right?
  • If the phone hit branches on the way down, especially if those branches hit the case instead of the screen, and then it landed on grass or soft dirt, I can totally see it surviving this drop. Whether an iPhone breaks or not depends entirely on how and where it impacts.
  • He did say there was some kind of case on it right?
  • That sounds sort of made up. Hmmm....I wonder
  • You guys didn't realize that the Iphone 4 comes with a mini parachute. You have to jailbreak to inable it but its there....
  • Lmao +10000000
  • Lol...the wonders of jailbreaking
  • I can't say the legitimatey of this story but I droped my 3GS from 35 ft while working on security lights and it landed in bushes and it was fine and it was in an extended battery case. It doesn't matter how far it falls there is a maximin speed a falling object can achieve and as long as it doesn't come to a sudden stop it reduces the risk. Now the possibility of this is very slim that conditions would be met for this to happen but possible.
  • I dropped mine about 7 feet onto tile. Not a scratch but I had a otterbox commuter case and still do :)
  • I guess they think we are going bust the doors down to go purchase the griffin case that they plugged. Naaa don't think so!!
  • That guy is so lucky. My friend dropped his iPhone 3 feet and the glass shattered. I wouldn't bet on mine.
  • Mine vibrated off the counter and made a nice spider web crack across the front screen.
  • I've dropped mine horrendously more times than I can count, with the latest being a four or so foot fall down out of a lifted SUV and landing face down on rain-soaked concrete. OtterBox Defender: big, bulky, and kinda ugly - but it has saved my phone many times.
  • It fell from my bed to hardwood floor and cracked.
  • Thanks Ron W, for risking your life while you serve your country!
  • Like
  • Couldn't agree more...thanks!
  • I usually put mine it my lap when I drive. I have forgotten several time and got out of my truck and it has landed in numerous parking lots. I never had a case and it only has minor dents to the corners.
  • I do the same thing, and probably couldn't count how many times it has fallen onto the street from my lap, luckily with no damage whatsoever. however, I think this story is a load of bullocks
  • I dropped by iPhone out of my had an it slid a good 3 feet under my garage door.
  • I've had all 4 iPhones and have never dropped any of them. When I use it, it's over a counter or something it won't fall far from if I do drop it. I put it away or down when I do anything to keep from dropping it.
  • 100% believable. To me this sounds like a Jumpmaster doing what we do best. 130kts, 1000ft, doing his PWAC and final clear to the rear at the 30 sec mark. I’m gonna go ahead and say c130 and I’ll also go out on a limb and say sicily drop zone at fort Bragg! Lots of soft soft sand there, phone could easily survive, once the phone hit terminal velocity it hit terminal velocity. Whether it was 1000ft or 13,500 ft.
  • Just a thought. I use a HTC EVO. I've dropped in case from 5 ft plus in a good case without a mark on it. It slipped off of my hotel bed in Rio onto tile and spiderwebbed the glass. It was out of the case.
    I believe it happened. Just one of those freaky things.
  • Literally, the day I got an iFrogz case, the first one I'd put on my iPhone 4, I dropped it 5 feet onto asphalt. Took a chunk out of my brand new case, but I didn't care one bit.
  • Alya atalak i will not believe it !!!
    My iphone 4 fell from the arm rest of the sofa on to my mac pro on my lap and thier was a chunk of glass out of it. O, O i know, it must had a parachute. Pleasseee.
  • Just a reminder to everyone. The best way to make sure iPhone doesnt break when falling is to put out your foot and break it's fall with the top of your shoe. Then it's as if it just rolled off your foot instead of falling 5 feet. I did this when mine was dropping towards concrete from 6 ft up. To my right was mulch so I made a split second decsion to put my foot out and kick it towards the mulch. Not a Scratch on it and I'm almost sure it would have cracked the screen.
  • When I time traveled with my DeLorean, I accidentally dropped my MacBook Pro from 2015, now it is available on 2011!!
  • I have dropped the iPhone 4 a few times, last year I dropped a hammer directly on the screen while at work. the phone had the Zagg invisible shield on it and created a significant dent in the screen. however, after about a day it was gone and I am still using the same phone and shield.
  • The question is? Is it allowed to turn on a Wireless Radio Devices during a (military) flight such as a cellphones on 3G networks or else? Remembering that "Find My iPhone" apps need an Internet Access to transmit its GPS location. If it is not allowed to do so, then who did turn on the "Cellular Data" or turn off the "Airplane Mode"?
    Second, can I get a signal on a place accessed by an ATV (might be a jungle)?
  • Most wireless devices will not affect any modern airplane. It would take upwards of 1000 of today's cell phones to affect a very old airplane. New planes would not receive any interference. Airlines ask people to turn off their phones to keep people from freaking out about an old rumor.
  • how has no one said this yet: you're dropping it wrong
  • the iPhones these days have the iParachute app which allows it to put out a parachute when its altitude is droppi g really fast, wow tech has gone so far...
  • there was this one time ... at band camp ... when I sat on the sofa, and my phone slipped out my pocket and down the back of the cushion ... scary stuff!
  • I've also dropped mine out of airplanes (and from a whole lot higher) with no ill effects; but then again, mine hasn't been going solo.
  • My iPhone has been inadvertently knocked off my nightstand 3 times, and I dropped mine on pavement when getting out of my car last week... and it has survived with out a scratch or crack thanks to the free TIPB bumper. I really believe that even though its a cheap looking bumper its the best material for absorbing shocks.
  • It never ceases to amaze me how completely careless (perhaps mindless) people are with expensive devices. When I did customer service for AT&T, I received thousands of calls from people that lost or destroyed their phones. Yes, freak accidents do happen, but I, for one, don't let the damn thing out of my sight (unless it's in my pocket). The case I bought did more damage (debris trapped in the case when I took it off scratched the back of my 3GS) than it ever prevented. I've since given up on the case.
  • I think the story is believable. Lucky, but believable. Whereas I broke the rear glass of my iPhone 4 by just having it in my pocket...
  • Second day having my iPhone 4, without a case on it, it slid off a table about 3 feet up, landed on the corner and cracked the back glass. I can't explain how frustrated I was. But in the end, my sleep button receded into my phone and apple gave me a new one for no charge, now I don't take the case off my phone.
    As for the article... it's believable, but I kinda wish he was recording a video at the time, that'd make it better
  • I fell asleep in my hot air balloon and my iPhone 4 alarm went off to wake me, I thought I was still in bed and went to place my iPhone on my locker but actually dropped it 100.000.000 feet, and when I landed 2 hours later it was sitting on a deck chair waiting for me, 100% fine.
  • Yea, not impressed. It got lucky. Check THIS out: http://www.precentral.net/pixi-survives-45-minutes-450-degrees-makes-sis...
    webOS > iOS
    (and all you doubting fanboys better USE webOS before you dis)
  • I can believe it. If some soft vegetation plus a decent case broke the fall then I don't see why it would be too far fetched. Out of a pocket onto a hard ground will destroy any unprotected one though.
  • IPhones don't just fall out of the sky!
  • Imagine if that phone just landed right in front of you.
  • I dropped mine this winter, few scratches on the glass, and after few days microphone stopped working. :(