Tuesday conversation: flying.

I’m flying to South Carolina today, which is a decent little hop from Kansas City.  Still, eight hours of time spent traveling in order to get to the East Coast is a pretty sweet deal.

I fly a lot, and have done so for the last couple of years.  I’m still scared shitless to fly.  Every single bump of turbulence makes me stop breathing, and I’ve even been known to quietly scream in bad turbulence.  I know the statistics.  I know the physics of air travel.  I’m still scared (though, I imagine I’d be less scared without those pieces of knowledge).

The most successful way I’ve found to conquer my fear of flying will seem unorthodox: I watch documentaries of airplane crashes.  You’d think that would make matters worse, but it doesn’t.  I’ve learned that people often survive crashes on the rare occasion they do occur, and I’ve also learned the myriad of things that have to go wrong in unison for a plane to crash because of a mechanical failure.

The rule of thumb for airplanes is that every system must be redundant, so a single mechanical failure cannot cause a plane to crash.  But even without that, think about when cars break down.  Well-maintained cars are generally incredibly reliable.  It’s the ones that have had the check engine light on for the last hundred miles that wind up breaking down.  Well, when a plane has the equivalent of a “check engine” light come on, they ground that shiz and fix immediately.  Imagine if we did that with cars.

The reason planes actually tend to crash is because of pilot error, which is still extremely rare.

Still, catastrophic failures do happen, which is why you should always wear your seat belt.

Are you afraid of flying?  Did you ever get over it?  How?

Have you never flown?  Do you want to?

The wife is getting ideas.
Impenetrable Fort Adorable.
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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.


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