research: asked an aviation archeologist. Not really sure how to web-research this one.
The sequence of events I want:
A small commercial plane (not a puddle-jumper, just the smallest class of standard passenger airliner) is flying over western Colorado. It has at least 100 people aboard, but not too many more. It crashes.
Most of the people initially survive the crash, but are incapacitated. At least one person is outright killed, though in a way that leaves him or her more or less intact (so no total decapitation or anything). The person who is killed outright is infected with my zombie fungus.
The new zombie needs to be able to bite (or otherwise infect--the fungus is spread through fluid-to-fluid contact) at least 5, and preferably 10 others without needing to use any tools or navigate around barriers (so, no seatbelt or anything like that). Those 5-10 also need to die at that point (or have already been dead, for no more than about a minute). Once there are at least 10 zombies on the plane, they can navigate seatbelts and the like, and can infect the rest of the plane, though it's probably best if they are still incapacitated somehow, and in the process of dying.
The things I need help figuring out:
Would fire/smoke be enough to incapacitate (but not *immediately* kill) the people on the plane? If fire started in mid-air, would the oxygen masks have dropped or something? Do I need to add something else, like enough shaking around to concuss everyone?
Why would Mr. or Ms. Zombie not be in a seatbelt? Could it have broken in the crash, or something? Is it likely that the crash happened so quickly that people hadn't buckled up from mid-flight "you are now free to move about the cabin", and the future zombie was coming back from the bathroom or something? Any other thoughts?
Is there anything else that I'm completely missing?
edit: also, these zombies look like recently dead people, except for patches of fungal tissue repairing any wounds. What might some/most/all of my zombies eventually *look* like? Would there be some that could "pass" as alive, as long as they could hide the bite marks?...