Ok. So lemme, with you, and this scene, okay:
Tony asks JARVIS “How many can I carry?” and JARVIS replies “Four”. And then Tony plays Barrel of Monkeys, yes?
The moment in between the question and the answer- that’s the important bit. Because Tony likely knows that terminal velocity is 120mph, and at 30’000ft (cruising altitude), it’ll take them 170 seconds to hit the ground. Tony has just under three minutes to save 12 people and- oh, the plane just blew up, so he can’t even give them a rough, emergency landing in the ocean.
It’s do-or-die, people.
But JARVIS says he can carry four people, and Tony (and by extension, JARVIS) most likely meant ‘hold in my arms while at a hover.
Average weight is 130-180lbs, and allowing for variations, and survivable landing speed (at least in an aircraft) is about 50mph. Tony knows he has to at least be under that. Preferable, would be under 30mph, because that’d be much more comfortable, but as he’s not dropping them at 50 feet above the water, it’s not something he really has to worry about. He can slowly drag them above the water until they reach the right speed, then let go.
Even considering that his energy output and flight strength will probably go down exponentially as he adds more ‘passengers’ with increased windsheer, flat figures takes him from a 0mph fall with four passengers to 30mph with 12.
This is doable.
And so Tony Stark ignores physics and rescues twelve falling birdies out from under the nose of Terminal Velocity.
(Source: jeandujardin, via tonyloki)