Mile high club
The term mile-high club (or MHC) is a slang term applied collectively to individuals who have had sexual intercourse while on board a flying aircraft. The exact requirements for membership are open to some interpretation.
One explanation for the act is the vibration of the plane, which may speed or improve arousal. Some say they have fantasies about pilots or flight attendants, or a fetish about planes themselves. For others, the appeal of joining the MHC 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 fucks 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.)
A website using the name Mile High Club regards the "Club's" "founder" as pilot and design engineer Lawrence Sperry, along with "socialite Mrs. Waldo Peirce"(Dorothy Rice Sims) citing their flight 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" about a measure taken by Singapore Airlines. The Airbus A380's twelve first class cabins have double beds, but they are not soundproof. Shortly after the introduction of the cabins the airline asked first class passengers to respect the other passengers.
Some incidents of people attempting sexual activity on planes have become popularly known:
- 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.
- 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 claims that the couple were not engaging in sexual activity, but that the man was sick and resting his head on the woman's lap.
- Richard Branson, the British billionaire entrepreneur and owner of Virgin Atlantic Airways and Virgin America Airways, 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.
- On 11 February 2007, Lisa Robertson, a Qantas flight attendant, was dismissed after having sex with actor Ralph Fiennes in a business class lavatory during a flight from Darwin to Mumbai on 24 January 2007. Robertson at first denied the allegation, but subsequently admitted the encounter in an interview with the British Daily Mail tabloid. She also said she had stayed with Fiennes at his Mumbai hotel.
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 lavatory to which the public has access, contrary to Sexual Offences Act 2003 LSs.71, with a maximum 6-month term.
However it is common in international law to apply to acts occurred on board a plane the law of the country of its registration, so the legality of the act should be analysed according to this law.
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 or by selling souvenir certificates and other items. Some web sites also provide resources such as historical information about the club.
- Hestor, Eliot Neal (21 September 1999). "Welcome to the Mile-High Club". Salon. Retrieved 2007-01-06.
- Rob Woodburn (24 May 2006). "Sex at high altitude". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2007-01-06.
- Lovegrove, Keith (2000). Airline: Identity, Design & Culture. New York: Te Neues Publishing Company. ISBN 978-3-8238-5460-9. OCLC 247769755. Retrieved 2007-01-05.
- "Sex: caught at it". TheSite.org. Retrieved 2007-01-05.
- L. G. Mitchell's biography of Charles James Fox. Quoted in Google Books
- Sperry Inc. History. Sperryinc.com. Retrieved on 2011-11-17.
- About MHC: Founding Member. Milehighclub.com (1997-10-13). 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. November 28, 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 (1991-12-23). Retrieved on 2015-01-11.
- ''Airline bans A380 mile-high club'') ''BBC News'' online, 31 October 2007. BBC News (2007-10-31). Retrieved on 2011-11-17.
- Cullen, Drew. (1999-10-05) 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 (2000-04-05). Retrieved on 2011-11-17.
- FindLaw.com, "Mile high club? Indictment alleges sex on a plane", 11 October 2006.
- Agence France-Presse, "Branson: I'm no mile-high club virgin", AFP, 29 July 2007.
- Air stewardess: secrets of my five-mile high sex romp with Ralph Fiennes. the Mail on Sunday (2007-02-17). Retrieved on 2011-11-17.
- "Is sex on a plane legal?". BBC News. 14 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-14.
- "Sex Flights Gets Grounded By The Civil Aviation Authority". AvStop.com. Retrieved 2011-01-26.
- MileHighClub.com, Mile High Flight Referrals page.
- Kitty Bean Yancy (8 September 2006). "A flight that goes all the way". USA Today. Retrieved 2006-10-03.
- "MileHighClub.com". Retrieved 2006-10-03.