Sunday, August 27, 2006

circling all round the sun

Terrorists are scary, to be sure, but it's this sort of thing that makes me really freak out about flying. I know, I know, statistically, you're in a lot more danger in your car. But I appreciate the control I have as the driver of my vehicle--not that the pilots aren't trained, but if they screw up, it's my life on the line... whereas if I screw up driving and hurt myself, it's my own damn fault. Also, being in the air is just so unforgiving--a crash from 10,000 feet is a crash you're not likely to survive, while a car crash seems to offer you a few more viable options for survival.

Anyway, I'm not sure I have much of a point, other than I'm not really an anxious flier. I've traveled frequently by air over the years and I've never even lost a bag (nor, thankfully, my lunch). I just don't care for takeoffs and landings, mostly because of stories like this one. Also, I've heard most flying mishaps happen during takeoff/landing (Bruce, want to back me up on this?).

And since I'm going to be doing some flying in the coming weeks... yeah. I just hope my pilots take the correct runway.


ericat13 said...

aha! I was just about to issue a "you there?" email, as it has been Three Whole Days since you've blogged. congrats on the callbacks! you get free trips to NYC, no? will you have extra time for a side trip to da have and/or meeting up with a friend who, say, takes the train in for dinner? lemme know :-)

ericat13, in the throes of a get-life-in-order compulsion. school starts sooooooon...*gulp*

Bruce said...

This follow-up link tells it better than I can. It backs up the chatter on a couple of the other sites I checked. I'll keep my eyes on the NTSB page, but they don't post preliminary findings until roughly two weeks after a crash.

You're right that takeoffs and landings are the most dangerous part of air travel. There are two simple reasons: winds at ground level are disrupted by terrain, temperature variances, and other things that I'm too tired to think of, and there are more aircraft trying to use the same space.

You're also right that you're less likely to survive a plane crash than an auto crash, but a lot of that depends on the specifics of the crash (either crash, actually). Statistics say that the survivors of plane crashes were seated in the rear section of the plane (which is the most uncomfortable, imho), but for this incident, the lone survivor is rumored to be the First Officer.

There are a lot of people making sure that nothing goes wrong, from the Captain and First Officer to the ground controllers to the air traffic controllers. They are all most excellent at what they do and very highly trained. Do any of them make mistakes? Yes, but they're pretty rare.

A lot of people worry about not having control in flight. A lot of people are anxious because they can't see anything in flight. Speaking for myself, I'd rather be a passenger in an aircraft than a passenger in a car. Driving the car falls between the two. I can't fly as well as the pilot, but I can drive better than anyone. ;-)

Personally, I love takeoffs and landings. The anticipation, the screaming engines, the flaps and slats, the brake release, the transition from bumpy runway to smooth air, the gear retracting, the climbing turn. Sure, I'm a flight geek, but how can you not be excited by that?