iPhone found unscathed after plunge from airplane

Posted: October 3, 2013 - 1:30pm


Angela Dalton shows her iPhone that she accidentally dropped out of an airplane over Dothan, Ala. and landed in the front yard of Eric Hall, left, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/The Dothan Eagle, Danny Tindell)

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) — Some phones are made of sterner stuff.

Angela Dalton and her 10-year-old son were riding as passengers in a three-seat plane on Friday for an aerial tour of Dothan, courtesy of a family friend who happens to be a pilot.

When the plane neared Dalton's Dothan neighborhood, she lifted her iPhone to snap a photo.

"I was trying to zoom it on my phone, and the wind just caught it and ripped it out of my hand," Dalton said.

A panicked Dalton watched as the phone spiraled away, soaring down an estimated 1,400 feet toward the city.

"All that kept going through my head was, 'I hope I don't get home and it's all over the news that I knocked somebody out or somebody got killed or it hit a windshield and caused a car accident,'" she said.

Resigned to the fact that her beloved phone had been decimated, she nevertheless called her number when she got home.

To her surprise, the phone rang but no one answered. Still, she and her husband suspended the account and, after being told the drop wasn't covered by the phone's warranty, thought the situation to be over.

Monday afternoon, Eric Hall had just left his house to check the mail when he noticed an orange cellphone sitting in his yard about six feet from the curb.

"My neighbor was out here, and I thought it might have been his daughter's phone," Hall said.

After realizing that wasn't the case, Hall charged the phone and called the last number the phone had dialed - Bill Smith, the pilot of the airplane from which the phone had fallen.

"I said, 'Hey, I found this phone.' He paused and then said, 'You're kidding me,'" Hall said. "He asked what it looked like, and I said, 'It looks great, like somebody dropped it out of their pocket while walking.' He said that, no, it fell 1,400 feet out of an airplane. So then I paused."

Not only had the phone survived the fall, it was in pristine condition, even after a weekend storm.

Dalton said she didn't have any kind of tracker installed on the phone, so she was stunned when her husband approached her Monday evening and told her it had been found in working condition.

The iPhone, in a SYSTM case, is now back in Dalton's possession, but the story got even stranger when Hall told Dalton his job title - air traffic controller.

"It's just crazy," Hall said.

While it's unknown if scientists worldwide will begin studying the phone's composition, Dalton said she plans to notify the makers of SYSTM and the iPhone of its harrowing journey.