Letter: Fear of flying

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The Independent Culture
Sir: In Andrew Marshall's article about the sad death of golfer Payne Stewart (27 October) I read that unconsciousness occurs in eight seconds if an aircraft depressurises suddenly at 40,000 feet. Doesn't this make a total nonsense of the pre-flight safety demonstrations in airliners where they talk about oxygen masks coming down in front of passengers under these conditions? If 400 passengers have only eight seconds in which to grab an oxygen mask when the cabin loses pressure, I don't think many will survive the experience.