When 18-year-old Carl Beekhuizen posted on Reddit (as user Av80r) that his MacBook Air had fallen 1000 feet out the plane he was flying, and survived the fall, thousands of users were amazed, while the tech world and internet latched onto the story swiftly. Around the world, journalists and bloggers wrote about the MacBook Air’s amazing survival skills.
Carl, who matriculated last year, grew up with a dad who flew planes as a hobby, and has been flying in light aircrafts most of his life as a passenger, and recently flying them as a student pilot.
On a training flight earlier in the year, Carl took off from Lanseria Airport in a single-engine two-seater SportCruiser. During his safety check, Carl forgot to latch the canopy, and it popped open as he took off. “During my pre-takeoff check, I got distracted and I forgot to check that the latch was locked down,” says Carl.
With one hand at the wheel, so to speak, Carl used his other hand to try keep the canopy closed. “As I levelled off from my climb, the negative Gs pushed my canopy open further and the wind blew the contents of the cockpit everywhere. There were little papers flying around and my eyes watered in the 105-knot wind,” Carl wrote on Reddit.
Carl then decided to land, and executed an emergency landing. Eager to carry on flying, he took off again, and did an hour of flying, to Magaliesberg and back. He then realised his orange Thule bag with his MacBook Air 2011 was missing, having fallen out the plane during the first flight. Carl spent hours searching for his bag in surrounding fields, and Carl estimates he walked around 8km, also asking dozens of people along the way if they’d seen his bag, which also contained ID documents, pilot’s licence and graphing calculator.
That night, Carl’s dad phoned him to tell him that someone had found the bag, and had posted messages on his Facebook page before phoning (he accessed Carl’s details by going through the documents in the bag). A farmer came across the bag while he was walking, and heard a whistling sound. He looked up, saw a bag falling, and immediately moved out the way to avoid being struck. He then took the bag to his boss, who contacted Carl. A grateful Carl rewarded the men, and happily discovered that not only were his papers intact, but his MacBook Air was working too. Unfortunately, he lost his calculator.
The MacBook Air still turned on, though it was bent and the glass of the trackpad was falling out. Carl connected an external mouse and keyboard to his MacBook, and cooled it down with a fan.