Fly safe

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Sunday, July 27, 2014


FLYING has never seemed more dangerous than today.

On March 8 of this year, Malaysian Airlines MH 370 carrying 239 people onboard vanished from the face of the Earth en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. It is remarkably odd how a Boeing 777, the world’s largest twin jet, can fall off the grid without a trace when in this day and age, cookies can track our browsing histories and stalk our passions and proclivities online.

But as if the disappearance of MH370 was not enough to scare nervous air travelers among us to think twice about flying again, in an incredible stroke of bad luck, another plane from Malaysian Airlines on July 17 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in Eastern Ukraine and killed all 298 people onboard. MH17 was believed to have been shot down with a Buk surface-to-air missile by Russian-backed Ukrainian separatists.

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On July 23, TransAsia Airways Flight 222 flying from Kaohsiung to Penghu island in Taiwan crashed and killed 48 of the 58 people onboard. Bad weather is suspected to have been the cause of the crash.

The following day, July 24, Air Algerie AH5017 flying from Burkina Faso to Algiers went down in the west African state of Mali and killed all 116 people onboard. Inclement weather is the likely cause of the crash.
Four air disasters in three different continents in a span of less than five months. Is it a curse? I say it’s a series of unfortunate events.
Is it still safe to fly? Some would say, stay home. Don’t get on a plane. But the statistics say otherwise.

According to www.planecrashinfo.com, the odds of being killed in any single flight on any of the 78 major world airlines, is 1 in 4.7 million. The pundits contend the most dangerous part of the airline flight is still the trip to the airport. More people get killed travelling on the road than in the sky. Air travel remains one of the safest modes of travel.

And if you’re afraid of dying in a plane crash, you should be aware that the odds of dying of heart disease and cancer are greater so you might want to reevaluate your eating habits rather than change your travel plans.

Despite all the mileage I have logged, I must confess that I am not a confident air traveler. It doesn’t matter whether I’m sitting on a 4-seat single-engine Cessna or a 450-seat Boeing 777 jet. I constantly think about all the dreadful possibilities that could occur in a heartbeat.
My dive instructor once told me that my problem was that I thought too much. Of course, he was right. Sometimes, you have to turn your brain off to have some peace of mind. And that’s how I managed to leap off a Nepalese cliff to paraglide and how I survived five hours of white-water rafting down Grade 5 rapids of the crocodile-infested Zambezi River.
Every time I fly, I put my faith in God’s infinite wisdom to spare me so I can do more for Him in this life. I just take that leap of faith. When I strap my body to that airline seat, I surrender everything to God. And then I immerse myself into movies on demand.

Is it safe to fly? Is it safe to live? Fly safe. Live free. (email: sunstarcebucolumnist@yahoo.com, twitter: http://twitter.com/melanietlim)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 27, 2014.

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