In Cecil Adams' column "The Straight Dope," which has appeared in alternative newspapers since 1973, he answered the following letter:
"I have always wondered whether I might be able to save myself from dying in a plunging elevator by jumping into the air at the moment of impact, thus offsetting the force of gravity. Would it work?"
"Sorry, kiddo," Adams replied. "It's a simple matter of physics. Let's say, for purposes of illustration, that your falling elevator reaches a terminal velocity of 100 feet per second. Even if you manage a great leap, you'll only reach a speed of maybe 5-10 feet per second (for comparison, a sprinter doing 40 yards in five seconds is moving at 24 feet per second). That leaves you with a net downward velocity of 90-95 feet per second. In short, Pancake City."
"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."