Monday, June 01, 2009

Crashing Can Seriously Damage Your Health

Having crossed the Atlantic almost 50 times and, health permitting, plan on making many more crossings in the future, I was more than shocked this morning to learn that an Air France Airbus 330-200 was missing on it's journey from Rio, Brazil to Paris, France.

I've added the countries for.....well YOU know !

I'm not a great air traveller and there are times during a 9hr flight when my thoughts always turn to what the hell is keeping us all up in the air in the first place, never mind at 35,000ft.  Yes I know it's a couple of big engine thingys but you know what I mean.  What keeps THEM up ?!  As anyone who has jumped off a cliff will tell you, albeit through a complex of tubes and drips from their ER bed, gravity has a tendancy to bring you down to earth. Fast.

When I've become bored with watching the inflight movies on a 6in screen, the main meal has come and gone (down the toilet in most cases) and the flight attendants have given up trying to sell us duty free items (no cash please), I try to relax by wondering what it would be like to drop from this height.  Actually to be honest I do this just before setting off and I've decided that falling from a modern large plane would leave a bit of a mark even when it's still on the tarmac !

Once airborne, I look down at the vastness of the empty Atlantic and I have all sorts of thoughts; what if I survived a crash landing but had to fight off sharks or after a few days, hungry passengers ?  Would my cell phone get a signal 2,000 miles from Britain ?  Hardly likely when it doesn't in the highlands of Scotland.

We all remember Vesna Vulovic, the stewardess who, in 1972, survived the descent when the plane she was in blew up (thanks to there being a bomb on board) at 33,000 feet.  Well if she did it, so could I, I tell myself during my onboard musings.  I know, not really likely.

Like most people I'd like to know what thoughts go through your head while making a plunge earthwards from such a height as you must have plenty of time to think about things.  Did I turn off the cooker ?  What a waste buying that duty free booze ?  Is this going to hurt ?  Oh look, I can see my house from here.

Sadly the only person who could enlighten us, namely Vesna, has no memory of her incident so we'll never know.

But the one thing that has always lowered my stress and worry levels when 'my' plane has reached it's cruising height is that we rarely hear about planes having problems, accidental or man made, at this height.  Terrorism apart, the vast majority of incidents happen during take off and landing for obvious reasons.  I think that's why the report this morning affected me more than usual.  

My 'happy zone' period, the period during a flight when we're all up there and flying along serenely at 35,000ft, has been violated now.  I'm sure that on my next flight I'll be worried the whole time. 

Of course the missing plane might be found intact, floating on the ocean with all 228 passengers and crew safe inside and eating the meals and watching movies but I very much doubt it. Maybe they'll be on some unknown island which has 'special powers' over them. No, chances are they and the plane will never be found as there is a lot of water in the Atlantic.

As always, our thoughts go out to those left behind, those who were waiting at the other end for friends and family to arrive safely.  While we never want to be in that position ourselves, we don't ever want to be the ones in the plane even more.

4 comments:

Brit Gal Sarah said...

Yeh I was equally shocked this morning, as you said it's just pretty unexpected! Especially when you consider how many planes cross the Atlantic every 24 hours, which is how I always convince myself onto the plane in the first place!

Like you I don't enjoy it and all kinds of bizarre similar thoughts go through my head too. I would be happy if I never had to fly again, but that's not realistic so I suck it up.

I doubt they'll ever find the plane either, looking down from 35,000 ft makes you realise how vast that ocean is. I just hope thet're last moments were ones of blissful unconciousness, so very sad.

jay said...

Good heavens .. one can only pray that he managed to land it somewhere, though it doesn't seem likely, does it? :(

Daphne said...

I hadn't heard this story and yes, we know that statistically it means it's less likely to happen again soon - - but I agree that this isn't much comfort and my heart goes out to those on the plane and their loved ones.

Milo said...

Hadn't heard the story until I saw your blog earlier in the day. Awful, really awful. We had a bumpy first 20 minutes on the flight to Florence which freaked me out a bit. The first few bumps you ignore, but then it got really severe and I started to get that "shit we're going to crash!" feeling. Not nice.

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