This may be a nihilistic approach, but the fact that I, in high probability, have flown in a plane model that has recently been grounded due to safety issues has had very little effect on me, if any.
The thing is, we’ve probably all flown in one of these planes (or one with equally dangerous issues) and we, like everyone else, were blissfully unaware of the problems in the potential death-trap we were flying. If you’re going to take a plane somewhere, you’re signing up for a situation you have absolutely no control over. Regardless of the model you’re flying on, your life is not in your hands. I don’t know anyone who takes plane models into account when scheduling flights or who runs background checks on the pilot and crew. (Although this would probably take significant inside information and some serious privacy violations to pull off.) And even if you did know about a potential problem in the model, would it really make a difference? Would it be something you’d be able to avoid? Could you see the plane outside, waiting to be boarded, and decide “Nope, not for me, I don’t trust S.S. Broken Phalange Sir Crashalots” and demand they move your flight to a different model?
There’s a certain serenity to putting your life in someone else’s hands — yeah, you could die, but you can be calm about it because it’s not your responsibility. The plane could crash and strand you in the ocean and sure, that would suck, but it’s not your problem. Life is absurd. You’re not in charge here; well, that’s how I view it.
But I probably can’t be trusted to have an opinion on flying. One time, when my family’s early morning connecting flight got delayed for six hours because there was a problem with the plane, my cousin, fed up with my complaining, asked something along the lines of “They’re fixing technical issues Nadia, do you want to get on a plane that could crash and kill you?” and I, sleep-deprived from our red-eye flight earlier and unable to stand another endless three hours in the airport, looked her in the eye and said “Yeah, I’d honestly rather die in a plane crash than be here another hour.” I think I was only about 36 per cent joking.
I’ve never been scared of flying, and maybe that’s part of why I’m so careless about it. I’m not afraid of heights, I don’t get airsick or altitude nosebleeds, and I consider takeoff to be analogous with a fun ride; I love road trips, and in a sort of unfailingly optimistic way, consider flying to be an extension of this — cramped seats that were not made for sleeping aside. Maybe I can be so cavalier about the prospect of my plane crashing because I’m already boarding with a (kind of out-of-character) positive attitude.
We have no control when it comes to planes, and there’s probably a lot we don’t know about certain aircraft models that could affect which flights we’re willing to board. Sometimes, planes crash and you get stranded on Nikumaroro and probably get eaten by crabs. That’s life. Shit happens.
Image: Kayt Hine/The Cascade