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7 Surprising Facts About the Mile High Club

Thinking of engaging in some airborne antics? Well there are quite a things you should bone up on before you take flight. This is everything you never knew you needed to know about the Mile High Club.

See recent posts by Chelsea Stuart | Photo by Ira Lippke

It was invented by the same guy who invented autopilot!

In June 1914 in Paris, hotshot American aviator Lawrence Burst Sperry climbed out of the pilot seat and onto the wing of his biplane as it flew above the Seine. And with that, came the invention of the auto-pilot. The moment was historic for a whole host of safety reasons, including preventing flier fatigue. But the most famous result? The idea of freeing up the pilot’s hands made them available to, ahem, move about the cabin.

It’s responsible for the best headline in the history of journalism

We can’t say for sure who came up with the term Mile High Club, but we do know when it first went "public." On a 1916 flight, Sperry’s airborne adventures with a New York socialite accidentally disengaged the autopilot, and the couple crashed off the coast of Long Island. When they were rescued – stark naked – by some duck hunters, he claimed that the force of the crash was to blame for removing their clothing. No one was buying it, however, and a local paper called the lovers out with quite possibly the best headline of all time: “Aerial Petting Ends in Wetting.”

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It’s the reason why you might not be able to change a diaper on your next Virgin Atlantic flight

You now know the history, so here’s the modern mile-high intel. Some randy baby-making could be to blame for difficulties in baby-changing on Virgin Atlantic planes. In 2002, the airline added changing tables but could barely keep up with replacing them because people kept using the tables to get freaky while in flight.

It’s got a host of A-list members

Gwyneth Paltrow, J-Lo, Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal, John Legend, Barbara Streisand and (surprise, surprise) several Kardashians are all members…and John Travolta reportedly joined while he was at the controls!

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It made one flight attendant a millionaire

One enterprising flight attendant reportedly made a million dollars by running an inflight prostitution ring. She got busted, fired and deported from an unnamed Middle Eastern airline, but not before collecting more than $1 million over the course of two years.

It may or may not be legal

Laws vary from country to country, but in the US, you could be charged with indecent exposure and/or interfering with a flight crew, which could carry a sentence of 20 years in prison. Anecdotal reports generally reveal that most people get a slap on the wrist — one Norweigian Air flight attendant recently wished a busted couple "happy reproduction" over the plane’s intercom — but it’s up to you to decide if it’s worth the risk. Nervous but still want to take things higher with your partner? There are several charter airlines that allow for truly private inflight adventures.

It’s definitely NOT ALLOWED at Disney

In 1999, Disney removed the Skyway gondola between Tomorrowland and, ahem, Fantasyland, because too many visitors were indulging in sky-high antics, according to Tom Hanks, who did research on the park for his role in Saving Mr. Banks. No wonder they call it the Happiest Place on Earth.

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