Mile high club
An alleged explanation for wanting to perform the act is the supposed vibration of the plane. Some say they have fantasies about pilots or flight attendants, or a fetish about planes themselves, a type of mechanophilia. For others, the appeal of joining the mile-high club is the thrill of doing something taboo and the thrill of the risk of being discovered.
An early reference to the concept is found in the betting book for Brooks's, a London gentlemen's club. The 1785 entry (only two years after the first successful balloon ascent by Étienne Montgolfier) reads: "Ld. Cholmondeley has given two guineas to Ld. Derby, to receive 500 Gs whenever his lordship [has sex with] a woman in a balloon one thousand yards from the Earth." (However, there is no further indication that the bet was paid, or even how they would check it if it was claimed.)
During the First World War, German Ace Oswald Boelcke was disciplined by superiors for taking a nurse up in the cockpit of his fighter, allegedly becoming the first person to qualify as a member of the club (although the logistics of how that would actually work are unclear, with the cockpit being very small and cramped and the pilot having to constantly keep hands and feet on the control stick and rudder pedals; others maintain it was a simple joyride).
Pilot/engineer Lawrence Sperry and socialite Dorothy Rice Sims have been described as the first persons to engage in sex while flying in an airplane; the two flew in an autopilot-equipped Curtiss Flying Boat near New York in November 1916. The American transportation authority NTSB reports one case in which sexual activity is at least partly responsible for an aviation accident.
In November 2007, the BBC reported a story headlined "Airline Bans A380 Mile-High Club". The Airbus A380 allows double beds to be installed in the first-class cabin, but Singapore Airlines' cabins are not soundproof; shortly after installing the new seats/beds, the airline requested that first-class travelers respect other passengers.
In one survey in the 2010s, 9% of Americans claimed to have had a sexual encounter in an airplane seat, 17% in the airplane bathroom, 5% with a stranger on an airplane, and 3% with a crew member.
Some incidents of people attempting sexual activity on planes have become popularly known:
- Richard Branson, the British billionaire entrepreneur and owner of the Virgin Group, including Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia, claimed that he joined the mile-high club at age 19 (c. 1969) in the plane's lavatory. Afterwards, he found out that his partner in the act was married, and the two had no relationship beyond the encounter in the plane.
- In October 1999, two passengers of an American Airlines flight from Dallas to Manchester were arrested after engaging in "sex acts" in front of other passengers in the business class section of the aircraft. Both lost their jobs after the press storm following the incident.
- A 2005 British Airways flight from London to Jamaica diverted to Bermuda when Trevor Blake and Nicola Fitzpatrick, a couple on board, who had possibly been intoxicated even before consuming more beer and wine on the plane, threatened flight attendants after they told them to return to their seats when the attendants found Fitzpatrick giving a lap dance to Blake in a crew jump seat; the two ultimately had to be physically confined to their seats. The two claimed later they had already had sex twice in the aircraft lavatory before their return to the U.K. Blake was sentenced to prison and Fitzpatrick was sentenced to community service.
- In late 2006, a couple was arrested in part for refusing to stop overt sexual activity on a flight in a case that received widespread media attention. The couple's lawyer claimed that the couple were not engaging in sexual activity, but that the man was sick and resting his head on the woman's lap.
- In 2007, British actor Ralph Fiennes was embroiled in scandal after having sex with a Qantas flight attendant on a flight from Sydney to Mumbai. After initial denials it was established that they had sex in the plane's lavatory and the flight attendant was later suspended, then sacked by Qantas.
The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (September 2011)
The BBC ran an article investigating whether sex on a plane was legal. Their conclusion was that it would depend on many factors, such as whether or not the act occurred in sight of others. If British law applied, for example, it may constitute sex in a lavatory to which the public has access, contrary to Sexual Offences Act 2003 s.71, with a maximum 6-month term.
Also, for international flights, the law could vary depending on departure and destination cities and the nation of the carrier airline, as well as the country of registration of the aircraft, and possibly the citizenship of the people involved.
In January 2011, the United Kingdom's aviation regulator body, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), refused to recertify Mile-High Flights, an air charter company located in Gloucestershire, for allowing its passengers to have sex while in-flight.
Some commercial enterprises cash in on people's interest in joining the "club" by offering special charter flights designed for the purpose. However, these have all been banned in all countries.
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- L. G. Mitchell's biography of Charles James Fox. Quoted in Google Books
- Ross, John F., Enduring Courage: Ace Pilot Eddie Rickenbacker and The Dawn of the Era of Speed. New York NY: St Martin's Press, 2014. p. 147
- Sperry Inc. History Archived 25 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Sperryinc.com. Retrieved on 2011-11-17.
- "FROM HER SICK BED PLANS NEW FLIGHTS; Mrs. Pierce(sic), in a Plaster Cast, Gives Orders to Have Her Aeroplane Ready. TELLS OF FALLING 800 FEET; Aviatrice Says it Was 'Very Funny' When She and Sperry Went Into the Water Off Babylon". The New York Times. New York, New York. 28 November 1916. p. 24.
Although she fell 800 feet in a hydro-aeroplane and was held fast for more than a minute in mud and wreckage seven feet under water, and suffered a fracture of the pelvis and other injuries, Mrs. Waldo Pierce(sic), daughter of Mrs. Isaac L. Rice, donor of the $1,000,000 fund for the Isaac L. Rice Hospital for Convalescents, has no intention of giving up flying.
- Check-Six.com – The First at a "Mile-High"
- John Baxter (10 February 2009). Carnal Knowledge: Baxter's Concise Encyclopedia of Modern Sex. HarperCollins. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-06-087434-6. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
- NTSB Identification: MIA92FA051. Ntsb.gov (23 December 1991). Retrieved on 2015-01-11.
- "Airline bans A380 mile-high club". BBC News. 31 October 2007. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
- Christopher Muther (12 September 2018). "Had sex on a plane? Who's most likely to get drunk on a flight? It's the wonderful, clickable world of travel surveys". The Boston Globe.
- Agence France-Presse, "I'm no mile-high club virgin", AFP, 29 July 2007.
- Cullen, Drew. (5 October 1999) Sex shame at 30,000 ft exec puts Nortel tagline into practice. Theregister.co.uk. Retrieved on 2011-11-17.
- Flight attendant report, B767-300, dfw-Manchester, England, couple engaged in sex acts would not stop when ordered to by crew. Arrested by Manchester police. 37000feet.com. Retrieved on 2011-11-17.
- Fine for drunken plane couple. BBC News (5 April 2000). Retrieved on 2011-11-17.
- "Jail terms for plane fracas pair". BBC News. 8 June 2007. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
- "BA sex couple sentenced in U.K. court". Bermuda Sun. 13 June 2007. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
The Guardian reported how cabin crew saw the pair acting drunk with Fitzgerald gyrating her hips on Blake's groin as they sat on a seat reserved for cabin crew.
- "Mile-high pair admit air rage". Metro. 14 May 2007. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
- FindLaw.com, "Mile high club? Indictment alleges sex on a plane", 11 October 2006.
- "Ralph Fiennes: I was the victim". The Daily Telegraph. 18 February 2007. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
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