Wednesday, September 12, 2018

How do you know if that flight really is safe?

When we’re about to board a train or a bus, who wonders about safety, and whether the driver is up to the job, and for that matter, if the bus or rail carriage was constructed robustly enough?
We don’t because – presumably – we know or believe that so many of them are in service, they must
be up to the job. Or we don’t question it because we don’t think to.
If a bus veers off the road through some fault, we wouldn’t expect to be hurt much.
If the train gets derailed, well, perhaps, hopefully, a shock is likely to be the worst of the injuries.
But … what about flying?

If something happens

If something happens up there, perhaps just about the best we can hope for is to perish speedily from a lack of oxygen, rather endure the fatal plunge and heaven knows what when the aircraft comes to a final full stop.
In many ways, it probably is better to believe that good fortune is on our side.
It would be somewhat discouraging to find when we're through Security and entering No Man’s Land for the two or three-hour mandatory wait, that it's packed with kneeling, praying fellow passengers.
However, it is something that I do think about. It might be a hangover from my days as a professional yacht skipper taking other people’s craft off on long-distance ocean crossings.

Astonishing flying machines

In those days, all I could do to ensure the vessel was up to it was to examine the yacht from bow to stern, from keel to wind direction indicator topping the mainmast.
Thanks to Wikipedia, we can learn a vast amount about the astonishing flying machines that fill the skies with huge populations, and often you and me. I asked Uncle Google about numbers.
The search engine quoted Flightradar24 dot com: right now about 3,300 planes are up there. ‘Assuming an average capacity of 200,’ the site reported, ‘about 660,000 people are in the air right now.’
I’ve heard it said that on many nights the equivalent of the population of New Zealand is way up there.
For my flights, I download all that Wikipedia has to report about the particular airliner. It’s amazing what you can learn that way. However, a warning. The negative side is told, too. 
Continues on the blogs for my ocean adventure book, Sailing to Purgatory, at


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