Sunday, January 20, 2008

Plane Stories

I'm heading off to Peru in about a month.

I'm a logical person. I know that planes are extremely safe. I know that the pilot flying the plane is reasonably skilled at what they do. Yet, I happen to be a nervous flyer. Not scared per se, just nervous. So why am I nervous? Two reasons:

First, I'm afraid of heights. Actually, that's not true. As George Carlin so aptly put it: "I'm not afraid of heights. I'm afraid of FALLING from heights." That sums it up quite nicely. I know that planes are safer than my car. But my car isn't flying at 35,000 feet. If my car's engine sputters, I pull over to the side of the road. The plane's engine sputters and we'll be all over the road.

Second reason. One word: Turbulence. Yes, yes, I know the physics behind it. But what it boils down to is here's a million tonne ball of metal flying through clear air and all of the sudden it's bouncing and shaking like it's about to rattle apart. When I'm in my car, I can see the pothole coming. There are no potholes in the sky...I think.

Additionally, I've had a few incidents on planes that have scared me. The one that stands out in my mind -- and this is entirely true -- was the time I had a seat looking out over the wing. While we were waiting to back away from the gate, an airport employee (presumably a mechanic), hopped up on the wing and wandered over to a hole in the wing I hadn't noticed. Yes, a hole.

It appeared that a small 1' x 1' panel had been taken off (or ripped off? torn off? blown off?) the wing leaving the inside of the wing exposed. The mechanic, with all his years of skill, training, experience, and an engineering degree that costed thousands of dollars, he took out a roll of duct tape and began to tape the hole.

Now, I don't know about you, but seeing someone tape a hole shut on a wing doesn't sound very enticing. I felt like going out and offering him some glue. Hell, I'll splurge for staples! Or perhaps, even better, the actual panel that belonged there?! If I'm paying a few hundred dollars on a plane ticket, do me a favour and use something other than tape on the wing...please! I envisioned the newspaper headlines: "Wing falls off of plane. Mechanic apologizes. Investigation showed he used Scotch tape instead of Masking Tape."

Next time, I'm flying first class. At least that way I can get drunk off the good scotch before I noticed these problems.

I've got other stories and I'll share some over time. I'm sure you do too, and I'd love to hear them.

I spent the entire flight staring at the tape the mechanic had stuck to the wing. It never blew off.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I flew once. I don't think it was the actual flight that scared me.
For me it is overwhelming to be inside the airport, you go through all these check points, then you sit there and wait for the plane. By that time my nerves were going.

So on top of being overwhelmed with the whole aiport experience and already being nervous. It's the going up part that I don't like.
I'm not sure why exactly maybe it's cause you are on an angle going upwards.

It doesn't make my stomach feel good.