A “poopsicle” forming on a plane, then melting as the plane reached a lower altitude is one researcher’s suggestion on why a Kelowna woman was hit by, what she believes to be, falling feces a few weeks ago.
Kelowna resident Susan Allan said she was in her car with her son in the early afternoon of May 9. She was stopped at the street lights on Spall Road and Bernard Avenue when an unwelcome deluge covered her car and came through the open sunroof.
“We were parked at the lights when the ‘sky poop’ starting falling,” said Allan. “It got all over my car, it got all over (me) and got on my son, inside my vehicle. It was definitely falling from the sky.”
Rob Young, earth and environmental sciences professor for UBC Okanagan, said the feces likely froze from a leak at higher altitudes.
“If it started as being kind of a poopsicle on the bottom of a plane, then it could easily thaw and become liquid as it came down.”
Young said it’s likely it would have to be frozen to accumulate a smaller ice mass, otherwise, it would have just sprayed off the edge of the plane.
“There are many examples of things coming crashing to earth… smaller amounts will likely completely evaporate. You see this in rain when you see clouds off in the distance and there’s grey trails coming out but there’s no rain reaching the earth. You can imagine the same thing would happen with some of the poopcicles.”
Another earth and environmental sciences professor at the university, Bernie Bauer, agrees with the theory.
“At low altitude, a bilge dump such as this would not have much time (distance) to disperse, and given the evident viscosity of such a mixture, it would not have dissipated into widespread drops (like raindrops). So it could have come down like a slurry of sorts,” he said via email.
Transport Canada declined to comment further on the incident as an investigation is ongoing, however, a spokesperson spoke generally about incidents that have happened which align with the professor’s theory.
“Frozen lavatory waste is referred to as blue ice. Aircraft that have washroom facilities onboard are equipped with an enclosed sewage holding tank that is designed to be emptied at special facilities at airports. It is possible that a valve malfunction and allows some leakage of the tank’s content. If this happens, the liquid seeping from valves freezes and adheres to the outside of the aircraft when the aircraft is flying at high altitudes,” Daniel Savoie, with media relations for Transport Canada.
“As the aircraft starts its descent and the atmosphere gets warmer, the ice will start to melt and pieces will detach themselves from the aircraft. These pieces of ice will either melt or remain in their solid state before hitting the ground.”