Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

19 March 2014

Risks We Elect To Take

So here we are, a week and a half after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and there is still no sign of it. The plane just vanished. Speculation runs rampant, especially on the all-news TV channels. Most of it is just inane-bordering-on-stupid. I can’t even watch CNN anymore.

Personally, I knew almost immediately that it did not crash at the point where it disappeared from radar. When searchers went to that location and found no wreckage I smelled a rat. Big airplanes like the Boeing 777 leave evidence behind when they crash. Something would’ve been on the water. But it wasn’t. Ergo, airplane not there; airplane somewhere else.

Where? Somebody knows, and somebody isn’t telling. I read today that Thailand’s government admitted that their military radar tracked the jet. Thai officials sort of disingenuously claimed that they never said anything about this because…get this…nobody asked. Yeah, right.

Big jets like the 777 do not just evaporate into thin air. It went somewhere, and it either landed or crash-landed. My sneaking suspicion is that it went somewhere and landed, and if it is still flyable it is now in the possession of some group. And my other sneaking suspicion is that the assigned flight crew did it…”stole” it…aviation’s version of “The Hunt For Red October.” Why? Who knows. It’s the stuff of adventure novels for sure. And it’s going to make a great movie.

The other aviation incident that made national news this week was the crash of a TV news helicopter in Seattle. It was apparently taking off from a rooftop helipad when something happened and it crashed onto the street below. Both people in the helicopter were killed, and one man on the ground was seriously injured.

Immediately after a bad accident like that, I knew there’d be a lot of speculation, just like with the 777 disappearance, especially on the internet. People want to immediately know what happened: What caused the helicopter to crash? This of course is impossible to know. Nevertheless, self-proclaimed “experts” are always throwing out their theories as fast as their pudgy little fingers can type them. Maybe it makes them feel better to be looked at as an authority by others. Older pilots like me refuse to even make an educated guess as to what would cause such a crash – because there are too many things that can go wrong with a helicopter operating from such a pad.

These two events hammer home the point to all of us that aviation is still a potentially dangerous endeavor. Nothing is perfectly safe, no matter how hard we try to make them so. Airline travel is “fairly” safe to be sure, but there is always an element of risk that cannot be denied or ignored or wished away. And the fact that there are X-number of successful airline flights all over the planet ever day does not lessen the associated risks one little bit.

Helicopter flying is perceived by some as “dangerous” but really it is not. I could not have survived over 30 years of flying these contraptions if they were dangerous. More than that, I wouldn’t have done it. I mean, come on, I’m no fool. I understand that helicopter flying is riskier than staying in your nice, safe apartment or house all day. But I work very hard at keeping the risks as low as possible when I’m flying.

The other night I was driving my taxi on a four-lane, divided highway. A confused (drunk?) driver pulled out from a side road right into my lane going the opposite direction. Head-on and coming fast! I confess that my initial thought was, “I wonder if my airbag is gonna work?” I yanked the wheel to the side and managed to get my car into the next lane just as the other car same zooming by, accelerating hard as he went the wrong way, looking for a place to get back on the proper side of the highway. We missed each other, but hoo-man! It was close enough that I got that metallic taste in my mouth that you get when you’ve had a really close call.

I chucked to myself, “And they say FLYING is dangerous??”

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