Wednesday, July 1, 2009


As is my annual tradition, I'm going on vacation in a few weeks. As a part of that tradition, I tend to rant about airplanes and how nervous I am to fly in one. I've decided to take a different approach this year: I've decided to rant about airplanes and debunk some of the well-known myths about them.

The odds of dying in a plane are miniscule compared to dying in a car
...and the odds of me winning the bronze medal for figure skating in the 2010 olympics is also miniscule, but yet, someone still wins the bronze medal, don't they?

Planes rarely breakdown
Car: "Shoot! Ran out of gas. I'll have to pull off to the side of the road."
Plane: "Shoot! Ran out of gas. We'll have to crash in that field. I hope we don't hit a goat."

Planes have strict maintenance controls
I have been on planes where:

  • Tape was used to cover a hole in the wing
  • An aborted take-off due to the luggage compartment door popping open
  • A part was taken out of the cockpit because it wasn't working. While waiting for a new part to arrive, the co-pilot put the broken part back in and it started working again, to which the pilot said: "Hey how'd you do that? Well let's get out of here before it stops working again."

Airlines are reliable

Car: Damn, where'd I leave my comb. Shit, it's in the trunk of the car with my other luggage.

Plane: Damn, where'd I leave my comb. Shit it's with my other luggage on its way to Japan.

You never know what cars around you will do -- you can't be totally safe

Well look at that. Just today it was reported by CNN how a "student" air traffic controller (they have those?!) almost caused two accidents at an airport.

To quote from the article: "This particular trainee had a total of 11 hours of training in the entire month of June. That's less then an hour a day," said Bob Kerr of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. "He's brand new; he's going to make mistakes."

Ok, a couple of issues:

  • Why is someone -- anyone -- with 11 hours of training being allowed to control planes? To put this in perspective, he's had 11 hours more training than me, and I have none.
  • Secondly, I have a wee bit of an issue with the word "mistakes". A mistake is not having enough packs of those peanuts to go around. A mistake is -- oops! -- allowing on a bag that won't fit in the overhead bin. I don't think almost having two planes collide is considered a mistake.

So overall, I have a few issues with planes and flying. Yet, I shall continue to risk life and limb and head out on vacation in a few weeks. Knowing my luck, I'll be sitting in the plane watching as they replace one of the plane's tires with that emergency spare you get in cars... "Yeah, this tire will be fine, but don't go too fast with it, eh?"

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