Sunday, July 06, 2014

A Year Ago Today...


"Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes skyward, for there you have been, and there you will long to return."

~Leonardo da Vinci


It's hard to believe it's been a year since the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214, but it has. I can still remember the "Breaking News" banner on CNN alerting that a plane had just crashed at SFO. At first you think to yourself that hopefully no one was hurt, and it's easy to believe that, as air travel is constantly looking to improve safety. It has come a long way, and lot has been learned to make air travel a LOT safer. In fact, not too long before the crash last year, I remember seeing two commercial pilots on, The View, explaining to Whoopi Goldberg, about how far the technology has come since the 1970's, when the crash of PSA Flight 182 occurred. At the time it was one of the deadliest crashes on American soil, and had been witnessed by Ms. Goldberg, and led to her lifetime fear of flying. The day had started as a warm, clear, September morning, then the PSA collided in mid-air with a Cessna Skyhawk during a training flight, sending both planes down to the ground in a residential neighborhood in San Diego. It seemed that perfect flying conditions was not enough to guarantee a safe flight that day. The NTSB concluded sometime later, that the crash happened because of pilot error, and all these years later, that the ruling once again, PILOT ERROR.


I used to be afraid of flying. And I have to admit, the same PSA crash that Whoopi Goldberg witnessed, and the crash that occurred at O'Hare airport, American Airlines Flight 191, played into my fear to a great degree. I had been on commercial flights before both crashes, and both times they had been comfortable flights, with little or no turbulence, but there was something about those two distinct crashes that would lead me to tremble all over if I had thought about them too much. It became so bad that I couldn't even hear an airplane engine, let alone go anywhere near the airport. Even small planes flying overhead bothered me. It was just a horrible feeling. Then, one day, after a couple years of doing my best to shed my unnecessary fears, I saw a Groupon for a 1 hour flight over the San Francisco skyline. The photographer in me was ready for the adventure, and to my surprise, so was every part of me. The thought of flying was now a pleasant one! Long story short... I purchased the Groupon, Alan and I took the flight on October 30th, 2012, and it was the thrill of a lifetime! There I was, soaring above my beloved San Francisco, happy as an egret, simply living my life, and getting amazingly gorgeous pictures that I would have never gotten otherwise. And it was less than a year before this terrible crash happened.

Again, another crash had happened because of... Pilot Error. It is simple really. Human error. It's something that no matter how far technology goes in attempts to make air travel safer, there just won't be any guarantees about simple human error. That's what humans do. Humans make mistakes... sometimes profound ones. A year ago today, I knew I had to go out to SFO and stand at the small park that sits just across the pond from the runway where Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crashed and came to rest, to see it for myself. By the time I got there, the place was overrun with media and fellow onlookers, but there it was, the burned out fuselage of the plane, and at the far end of the runway, near the rock wall that turned out to be what the plane hit first, was the red and blue tail of the plane, with assorted pieces of metal and rock strewed in-between. It was a crazy sight. It was all at once unbelievable, and at the same time, all too believable. It made your heart sink when you considered what the passengers went through.

While many were injured, the loss of life was 3. It could have been so much worse, and yet how do you say that when those folks lost their lives? Another few seconds and the plane would have been at their destination safe. I can't imagine flying all that way, only to lose my life in the last few seconds of the flight. It's so sad. I found myself praying for the victims that day, as well as their families. I hoped they didn't suffer long, and I thought about them for months. Still do sometimes. But I also pull out the photos I took of San Francisco from the skyline tour, and I consider how wonderful it felt to be up in the clouds that day, and I know I am not afraid of flying again, if anything, I look forward to one day taking another tour of the bay, except next time maybe a sunset tour. I don't know... we'll see. A helicopter would be fun to try also, or heck, maybe even a blimp. You never know!



One thing I do know, air travel will keep getting safer. The NTSB report on the Asiana Airlines crash happened because of pilot error, but it was a specific kind of pilot error. And I think steps will be taken to address that issue both here and around the world. So, in that sense, things are already safer. Now if you ask me about the strange disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 and... well... I am like everyone else... I have NO idea what happened. I have considered everything from pilot suicide... to the supernatural... to politics... to terrorism. I have thought about every scenario possible. Nothing makes sense! I don't think they are in the Indian Ocean, but in truth, I can't say for sure. It seems a lot has been glossed over by the Malaysian government, but at the same time, maybe they really don't know anymore than the rest of us do.  


The disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 isn't currently explainable. 

What do you do with that?

I think the same as you do with the crash of Asiana Flight 214... pray.

Never... Ever... Underestimate the power of prayer!


Never... Ever... Underestimate the power of educating yourself about what you fear.

You never know when you might need those skills!

I don't think I will go out to SFO today to remember the passengers of Asiana Flight 214, but perhaps I will next week. Today, I will just quietly remember them.

 Mood: Reflective

~Me :)

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