Air Travel: Unthinkable Now

A few weeks ago, a radio pastor jokingly offered one possible explanation of why God allowed the invention of the airplane: People who never talk to Him on Earth are more than willing to call on Him when they’re 37,000 feet in the air.

I don’t doubt this — although, since I don’t fly anymore, I won’t be hearing what they say to Him.

I did most of my flying during my student years. My last flight was in early June 1980 — a pleasant, uneventful two-hour trip from Boston to Chicago on a Boeing 727. The weather was clear — no turbulence, no delays.

Security back then was non-intrusive — and it took about 10 seconds. Carry-ons went on a conveyor belt. Passengers walked through an archway to the next room and picked them up there.

Why Did I Quit Flying?

In a word: AVERSION. Although, as a kid, I actually managed to find some fun in flying, I never really got used to it.

Let’s face it. Man is not a flying creature. For humans, being airborne is not natural. I didn’t have any bad experiences — cancellations, lost luggage, emergency landings. The only challenge was occasional turbulence. That was enough to put me off.

What Keeps Me on the Ground?

Besides aversion to being airborne, five other annoyances would be more than enough to keep me earthbound. I say would be because I never did experience these vexations firsthand when flying. But I’ve heard and read plenty of horror stories about each one:

  • Airport security hassles.
  • Crowded flights.
  • Long delays.
  • Noisy babies.
  • Rowdy passengers.

Two Gripping Dramas: 2015 and 1989

Besides these blasted annoyances, now there are mentally unstable aviators — like Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz — going on suicide missions and killing all on board in the process. Lubitz locked his pilot, Captain Patrick Sondenheimer, out of the cockpit on March 24, 2015, and then rammed the jet into the French Alps. Death toll: 150 — no survivors.

In contrast, there was the heroism of Captain Al Haynes, who was piloting United Airlines Flight 232 from Denver to Chicago on July 19, 1989.

About an hour into flight, the Number 2 engine — the tail engine — suffered catastrophic failure. The fan disk snapped and disintegrated. The resulting shrapnel severed the DC-10’s hydraulic lines and rendered flight controls inoperable. The plane made an emergency landing in Sioux City, IA. Of the 296 passengers and crew, 111 died, while 185 survived. One survivor died of his injuries 31 days later.

The documentary reenactment, Crash Landing, which I’ve seen on YouTube, is indeed gripping. Hats off to Captain Haynes and his team for their professionalism and resource management.

‘Live and Let Live’

Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t fly — if that’s how you prefer to travel. Just don’t invite me along.

What am I missing out on? Nothing. True, I won’t see my ancestral homelands in western and north-central Europe. But I never really cared to see them anyway. Additionally, as one of my European connections on Linked In recently wrote me: “The School of Victimology and the School of Political Correctness have infected Europe, too.”

I’ll keep fighting these two schools right here at home — and be content to read about Europe and see it in pictures. Forget the travel — I can make better use of my hard-earned dollars here.

As for talking to God: I can do that just fine here on solid ground. Be assured — life’s challenges give me more than enough incentive to stay in touch with Him.

Thunderstorm over Cordell, OK, USA. Photo by Jim Hastings.

Thunderstorm over Cordell, OK, USA. Photo by Jim Hastings.

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