My New Obsession: Air Disasters

I'm one strange cookie.

We all know this, and hopefully that's why you keep coming back to this blog. Along with this quirk comes a strange fascination with subjects that most people don't know a lot about, or simply don't want to know about. After watching a few World War II documentaries on the Smithsonian Channel, I accidentally started watching a series called "Air Disasters" which spends an hour describing and trying to solve the mysteries around what caused a plane (or helicopter) to crash.

Naturally, someone with flying anxiety (*ahem* such as myself) would probably be advised to avoid watching this show. For whatever reason, I still can't seem to look away. The awesome part is that every episode shows not only what the air industry has learned from the crash, but also what has been done since then to prevent the same accident from ever happening again. This is what gives me comfort.

While the reenactments leave a lot to be desired (the acting is really bad), the computer-generated reenactments of the plane crashes are incredibly realistic. Despite how terrifying some of the crashes look, it is pretty amazing how many people actually end up surviving. Frankly, I always thought that a plane crash meant instant death to everyone on board, but as this show demonstrates that is not always the case.

I've learned that human error is usually the main cause of crashes, and most of the time these types of errors result in most passengers surviving. However, there are always circumstances that we can never control: terrorism, a suicidal pilot, warfare, etc. Knowing how to spot and understand when something is wrong can definitely help save lives and it's important to know what to look for.

Amazingly, air travel is still the safest form of travel in the world. The odds of your plane going down on a flight is one in 5.2 million and the odds of you actually dying in this crash is one in 11 million. At the same time, the odds of being in an automobile accident are one in 470 and the odds of dying are one in 5,000. I had to look these up to get some comfort after watching planes crash on TV for a few hours.

If you can stomach it, I highly recommend binging on "Air Disasters." At the very least, you may learn the key to survival that isn't outlined in the airline safety card. Check out the series online at the Smithsonian Channel's website and you can also watch it on Netflix.

Also if you want to crap your pants, watch this video of a 747 crashing in Afghanistan. (NOTE: this was a cargo plane, only 7 people died, and it was a terroist attack that brought it down.) Knowing the backstory behind every crash is helpful.

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