Plane crashes and traffic accidents

The first thing I read this morning was the news about the plane crash of Flight 3047, a stark contrast to the landing of Flight 1549 into the Hudson. Perhaps, this is why Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III has down played his role as a hero. One different step and the outcome could have been the terrible version. The version that makes someone’s heart stop for a second and think, “There but for the grace of God go I.”

Tom wrote about Beverly Eckert’s death in Flight 3047’s crash which adds more drama to an already over the top story. When I read the news story, I flashed to all the times I’ve heard planes when visiting my aunt who lives in Florence, Kentucky right under the flight pattern of the Greater Cincinnati Airport. At certain times of the day, if you’re in the backyard, you have to pause a conversation because the noise is so loud. My in laws who live near Hopkins International Airport in Cleveland have a bit of the same problem, but not quite as bad.

If you think about all the planes that fly low over buildings every day, making smooth landings or taking off with ease, it’s astounding. The principles of physics and our abilities to ward off disasters mostly work like clockwork. Still, when one reads about an accident such as Flight 3047, all the safe flights seem diminished somehow.

We wonder if we’ll be lucky enough to have a Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III piloting the plane, or someone else, even if the someone else was just at the wrong place at the wrong time, just like a traffic accident where the road was unexpectedly slick and a car slid through an intersection to plow into oncoming traffic. Car crashes, much more common, barely last in our thoughts past the few minutes we saw them, unless we recount the tale when we arrive at our destination.

Plane crashes have a way of sticking with us. Maybe that’s why there’s a higher anxiety when people fly. Heavy people, whiny children, crowded overhead bins, no snacks, a delay–all add to feelings that something awful could happen. It’s easier to transfer our feelings of a lack of control to the people who are sitting next to us than wondering what might come next. I’m just musing here. But, it’s a thought. Still it is safer to fly–and most car accidents happen closer to home. Like everyone else, I’m wondering what could have possibly happened to cause such a tragedy.