Mitt Romney: "I don't know" why airplane windows don't open

Update: Apparently, Mitt was joking

At a $50,000/ticket fundraiser at the Beverly Hills Hilton (home to one of the great Trader Vic's of America, I might add), Mitt Romney expressed his controversial views on aerospace engineering, as recounted by the LA Times's Seema Mehta:

Romney’s wife, Ann, was in attendance, and the candidate spoke of the concern he had for her when her plane had to make an emergency landing Friday en route to Santa Monica because of an electrical malfunction.

“I appreciate the fact that she is on the ground, safe and sound. And I don’t think she knows just how worried some of us were,” Romney said. “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.”

I expect that's the sort of insight into technology that Romney acquired while creating jobs by remaking American industry to be more efficient.

Mitt Romney pulls in $6 million at Beverly Hills fundraiser

(Image: Virgin Atlantic Window, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from aplumb's photostream)


    1. only if your plan for putting out the fire is to suffocate it. which isn’t the best idea if people are in the same space.

      1. Depends on how expendable the people are. Halon-dump fire suppression systems are sometimes used in datacenters, libraries, and various other places where water based extinguishers are a bad idea.

        It is considered a Bad Idea to remain inside the dump zone when one of those fire alarms goes off.

        1. Agreed to that fuzzyfuzzyfungus!  Halon acts as an oxygen replacer in the body.  It will suffocate you if you breath it in.  Alarms go off, time to get the fudge out of there.

          1. No, what Halon does is displaces the oxygen in the room, because it’s a heavy gas that doesn’t support combustion.  It’s not particularly harmful to breathe in, but you’ll also be wanting some oxygen. 

            The tricky bit is that, unlike in regular fire situations where you may want to crawl on the floor to avoid the hot gasses, if there’s a halon dump you don’t want to do that if you can avoid it.  (The other problem with halon is that it’s normally under high pressure, and if your data center has loose stuff on top of the servers, like manuals or magtapes, it’s all going to blow around and may whack you in the head.)

          2.  I was once cornered by a Halon fire-suppression system salesman who demonstrated the safety of halon by squirting a small extinguisher of it into his mouth. He didn’t die. At least, not then.

        2. Better or worse than burning to death?  A close relative’s life was saved by getting hit point blank by a halon system.  Halon is not good for you but fire is actually even worse.

  1. Let the free market sort it out.  Those pesky, burning airplanes will soon be removed from service one way or another.

  2. Now I’m imagining Mitt Romney painted up with ICP-style makeup, asking, “Airplane windows — how do they work?”

    1. Thanks.  As soon as I read it I was thinking, “Romney’s not that dumb, this is just another of his failed, awkward attempts at humor.”

      Either way I read the quote in Fred Willard’s voice.

      And it occurred to me that Fred Willard would almost make a really good Mitt Romney impersonator, except he’s way too charming and likeable.

      1. It wasn’t a joke. That’s just to cover for his stupidity. The quote is “…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.”

        If it was a joke, he would have ended at “…I don’t know why they don’t do that.” and smirked his shitty smirk.

        1. I think it depends entirely on how long he paused between sentences.  “So it’s very dangerous” could be his inept version of “Okay, but seriously, though.”

          I think we’re already overanalyzing, though.  I think the Occam’s Razor interpretation is simply that Romney is terrible at telling jokes, not that he’s never seen an action movie set on an airplane before.  (Though Mormons aren’t supposed to watch R-rated movies…)

          1. He may or may not be good/bad at telling jokes, but the simplest answer is that we take the quote at face value. 

          2. Kennedy may or may not be good/bad at speaking German, but the simplest answer is that we take the quote at face value: Kennedy was explaining that he was a jelly donut.

          3. No way man, Romney is great at telling jokes. He lives for laughter. People just don’t appreciate his sense of humour.

        2. You might want to check the NYMag article before you assert it wasn’t a joke. To wit:

          >The Los Angeles Times story that relayed Romney’s airplane remark to the world was based off a pool report written by the New York Times’s Ashley Parker. When we asked Parker this morning whether it seemed as if Romney made the mark in jest, she left no doubt. “Romney was joking,” she e-mailed. Parker told us that while the pool report didn’t explicitly indicate that Romney was joking, it was self-evident that he was. “The pool report provided the full transcript of his comments on Ann’s plane scare,” she said, “and it was clear from the context that he was not being serious.”

      2. Speaking of terrible Romney humor, did you hear this one:

        Romney was in a diner campaigning.  He walked up to a patron asking if he was eating an eggs Benedict.  The customer replied in the affirmative.  Romney remarked the guy should be eating it out of a hubcap, instead of a plate.  When the guy asked why, Romney answered “There’s no place like chrome for the hollandaise.”

    2. There is a kind of Poe’s law thing with Romney’s jokes.  The print medium doesn’t really convey the tone either.  I’m willing to give him a pass on this until we get some in-context video where he’s super serious about it.

      1. It’s a no-win situation.

        Either he’s a total fucking moron…

        Or his gut reaction to the mental image of his wife choking in the smoke-filled cabin of a burning aircraft is snickers and giggles.

        1. Gallows humor is hardly a new concept.  His wife and everybody else on board the plane were fine, I don’t see what the big deal would be about cracking a joke or two after the fact. 

          You’re coming across as incredibly shrill Jim. 

      1. Airplane roof rack dog carriers are for little people. They have an airplane roof rack HORSE carrier. (That’s why the poor dear did so poorly at the Olympics.)

  3. “…she was choking and rubbing her eyes.”

    I guess Queen Ann’s handmaiden was sitting back in the cheap seats so there was no one there to reach up, grab the oxygen mask and gently place on her royal visage.

    1. I’m not an aviation expert, but if I recall correctly oxygen masks descend in the event of loss of cabin pressure – not fire. In fact it seems that adding oxygen to a fire might be a bad idea.

      1. Releasing the masks is a pretty drastic thing for the pilot to do, resetting them is expensive.  It’s not something you do every time a board lets out a little magic blue smoke.  If the cabin were really filling with smoke it might make sense, but as far as I can tell this was a really minor incident. 

  4. There are two possibilities. One, Mitt Romney actually doesn’t understand why plane windows don’t open, or two, Mitt Romney is making a joke about a situation where his wife could have died. Neither make me much feel like voting for him.

    1.  i don’t like the guy either but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater here.  humor – when delivered well – is pretty much appropriate any time.  dark comedy?  gallows humor?

      1.  In “Dr. Strangelove” we weren’t laughing with President Merkin Muffley, were were laughing *at* President Merkin Muffley.

    2. He’s socially inept which is, somewhat remarkably, extremely common in Presidential candidates from all parties. Obama is fairly rare in being able to just schmooze.

  5. In his defense, I think he meant that he doesn’t know why you can’t vent air and bring in some fresh air on an airplane.  Which is actually an issue and really you should be able to release air and pressurize fresh air and that would probably make it healthier to Fly…

    Note on his incompetence:  No one that is this bad a communicator should actually be leader of a country unless you like world wars and riots.

      1. At least we could tell when G-Dub was telling a joke.  It’s seriously difficult to tell when Mittens is joking. 

    1. The ECS does do some amount of gas exchange with the outside; but dealing with either the very cold, very dry, ambient air or the very toasty bleed air requires putting more energy into the climate control systems.

      This means that, in practice, commercial aircraft recirculate a substantial portion of their atmosphere at any given time, and don’t have the capacity to flush atmosphere fast enough to eliminate smoke from a fire or the like.

  6. And no car elevators either?  What’s up with that?

    Srsly though, sounds like a joke attempt, as far as gaffes go it’s pretty small potatoes and he managed not to accuse us all of being parasitic scum.  A good day for him I’d say.

        1. That’s one kickass ride.  It’s better than a lot of the megayachts you see on TV that are incredibly expensive, but only because of the $50 million crystal chandeliers, gold leaf plated walls, and diamond encrusted cutlery and drinkware.  This plane actually has some pretty cool hardware.

      1. :)  I just knew somebody would say that on Boing Boing. #passengerplane

        It would have been great if he said: “Well at least I know they don’t open on my planes…”

    1.  “he managed not to accuse us all of being parasitic scum.  A good day for him I’d say.”

      Such modest ambitions for the man who would be President of America.

  7. I thought the windows didn’t open in order to keep the Gremlins out… of course, it also makes it difficult to shoot at them…

  8. I’m with Someguy above.  If the plane was certified, then it had to have had some supplemental oxygen available for each passenger, within reach of their seat.  There was no need for her to have been choking on the toxic fumes.  

    That doesn’t make her especially ignorant, even though I’d love to say so, as most people don’t pay as close attention to the emergency equipment lecture or pamphlet as they should.  But, this is case in point as to why you should:  When panic time came, she evidently didn’t know how/where to get an oxygen mask for herself.  

    As for the whole windows rolling down in a pressurized aircraft deal:  Obviously Mitt isn’t a really technical guy, and that sure made him look dumb.  

    1. The oxygen masks mentioned in the briefing are not there in case of smoke and won’t be deployed in a fire/smoke/fumes situation.  They would feed the fire.  (Although, in this case there hasn’t been any mention of fire, only smoke and fumes.)  The oxygen masks will drop automatically if the computer system in the plane senses decompression – that is, the cabin altitude climbs above 14000 ft from it’s nominal level of 6000-8000 ft.  They deliver 10-20 minutes of supplemental oxygen to make up for the reduced pressure as the captain initiates an emergency descent to a level where the air pressure is higher.

  9. After Tricky Dicky and Bush Sr. the harmless-seeming “why he’s stupider than me, I can trust him because he’s too dumb to lie, or manipulate me” PR model became ‘duh’ rigeur.

  10. I’m an ex pilot. Some jet aircraft windows can be opened. Some prop planes have windows that can be opened. See .  Now, I don’t know all things about all aircraft.  For example, I was surprised to see that a commercial airliner provides access to the cockpit through a hatch in the roof.  Anyway, the jets made post year 2000 have a truck load of avionics for which no single person understands precisely how they all work — except that pilots know that they do, and have cross-checks to confirm functionality.  So, its really not a simple issue of whether windows open or don’t.  Now, who among you can explain the compression cycle of a  non-diesel auto engine?  Do we need to have presidents that can change a transmission in a car? Is that a real necessity?

    1. This. I can’t stand the guy and I fear for the country, but I really don’t see any reason to throw up our collective hands and say “MORE PROOF HE’S AN IDOT”. And anyway, I know engineers who have difficulty using Thunderbird. 

    2. Now, who among you can explain the compression cycle of a non-diesel auto engine?

      I could if I wanted. I just don’t feel like it right now.

  11. Here let me fix that headline for you… Oh wait it won’t attach my screen shot. And I can’t delete this post. Ahhhhh.

    1. The video is even worse than the transcript. It’s not obvious he’s joking, he says everything (including the part about his wife choking) in the same weird hehehe delivery.

  12. Y’know, like all good card-carrying BB readers, I agree that Mitt is a (dangerous) douche. On the other hand, I’ve also stopped believing Obama is the Messiah (haven’t we all?), and I’ve noticed an interesting filter bubble effect: all the news I see on Obama is positive, all the news I see on Mitt is negative. It’s such an ovious example of filter bias. I wonder what the opposite looks like*?Dunno if this is the cause or result of America’s hyper-polarized political climate.

    * No, I’m not going to Fox to try. I don’t want to become stupider.

    1. Actually I never did see Obama as the Messiah. I’m not a partisan voter, more of a “lesser of two evils” kinda voter. There’s plenty of anti-Obama media out there. But he never would have had a shot at the presidency if he gaffed during his campaign so badly and so consistently often as Rmoney does.

    2. I’ve noticed an interesting filter bubble effect: all the news I see on Obama is positive

      That’s your own internal filter. We’ve excoriated Obama for drone strikes, extrajudicial executions, various IP laws and treaties, etc.

      1. You’re quite right. Seems I have a selective memory too : Also I didn’t mean to single out BB as the only source of positive Obama news (I Reddit too…)

        Nevertheless, my point remains: I wonder how it is to live with the opposite bias. As far as I know, you’d need to use Fox News as primary source. Maybe CNN?

  13. I feel that mandating opening windows on all passenger planes would be a winning platform for the republicans. 
    it will certainly make as much sense as other desires of the republican party.


  15. Its good to know that when I’m feeling down I can look to Romney’s quote of the day to cheer me up =D

  16. Just like when he was joking about the 47% of Americans who he doesn’t care about as they are mere leeches dependent on the successful.

  17. In years to come Romney will surpass Andy Kaufmann in the annals of improvisational hoax comedy– Funny ha-ha and funny peculiar.

  18. “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.”
    This comment terrifies me.

  19. My girlfriend thought it was funny when I read it to her. It’s actually a good Romney joke. I prefaced the joke by explaining it was a Romney joke. I guess the jokes on Romney… 

  20. The guy wants a plane with windows that open, I say give it to him.  Maybe Darinwinism will win out in the end. =====> WHOOSH!

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