Saturday,21 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1189, (20 - 26 March 2014)
Saturday,21 October, 2017
Issue 1189, (20 - 26 March 2014)

Ahram Weekly

‘Come fly with me’

They signed off:  ”All right! Good night!”!  But all was not right with the crew of that fated flight, and so far, it turned out to be the longest ‘good night’! 

For more than a week and as of this writing, the fate of Flight 370 of Malaysian Airlines remains a mystery. Disappearing out of sight, it has become the biggest mystery in aviation history.

Flying from Kuala Lumpur at a normal cruise altitude, with a dependable crew manning the 777 Boeing 200ER, it carried 239 passengers. They had barely fastened their seatbelts and began to feel comfortable, anticipating their journey to Beijing, China, when the jetliner suddenly disappeared off the radar.

More than a dozen nations, 100 ships and aircrafts have so far failed to uncover a single piece of debris or wreckage. This has never happened before except on June 1, 2009, when an Air France flight from Rio de Janeiro heading for Paris, suddenly lost track.  Bodies started to appear on the Atlantic Ocean, 500 miles off the coast of Brazil. This happened after 3 days of high anxiety and speculation, the longest time ever, until now. It took two years for the French authorities to claim that the reason was an equipment malfunction.  For over a week now, there is not the slightest indication of what happened to the safest and hugest bird in the air, with all its passengers!

Finally the Malaysian prime minister was forced to make a statement admitting that the missing plane had intentionally flown off-course and its procedures were consistent with deliberate actions by someone on the plane.  So, was the plane hijacked to some remote, forgotten spot and were the passengers therefore safe?  Reddened, darkened, tired eyes, breaking hearts and desperate souls of families and friends took heart. Spirits were buoyed by the news, still there were no clues.

By this reading we hope the mystery will have been solved, and the fate of Flight 370 will have been revealed whatever the tragic outcome.

Where does that leave you?  Where does it leave all passengers planning to fly soon for business or pleasure?

At the core of our basic emotion is our concern for our safety. What plans have been altered since this tragic incident?  Most probably none!

Air travel is the safest mode of transportation. You would have to fly on average once a day, everyday, for 22.000 years before you would perish in flight.

If something is fated, it is fated! Any effort to change the outcome is pointless. This belief is described as the “Idle Argument” by Oregon and Cicero… It is similar to the fatalist belief. ‘Fatalists’ believe they have no power to change their future. Everything is pre-determined. Whatever action we take or do not take will alter the outcome of what is already ordained. Friedrich Nietzche, in his book “The Wanderer and his Shadow” named this the ‘Turkish Fatalism’, perhaps with some contempt.  Actions are free, but nevertheless, work towards an inevitable end. You can only assume that if you pursue a life dedicated to wisdom and knowledge, your effect will be positive in this life.

We have a date with death—what we cannot know is when or how!

The least of our worries should be a commercial airline. Step into that silvery bird and you will feel stimulated by the adventure ahead, the hustle and bustle of fellow passengers, the vistas of the golden rays of a bright sun or the twinkle of a star-studded midnight sky. You know you will be delivered to your destination safe and sound!

 Dr. Arnold Barnett of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, (MIT), has done extensive research in the field over the last 15 years. His conclusion was that the death risk per flight was 1 in 7 million. You are more likely to die from a bee sting as the risk is 1 in 5.5million. If you opt for a train ride your risk rises to 1 in 1 million.

The world is a dangerous place! Be careful getting out of bed, taking a shower or riding your bicycle, and most especially driving your car. Deaths from bicycle-riding are 1 in 450,000 but they reach 1 in 14,000 in an automobile. In the US alone 130 people are killed every day, 47,000 per year. When you fly you have a one hundred thousandth of 1%, (.000014%) chance of dying.

 Worried about your health?  Cardio-vascular disease is the biggest killer with a 50% risk of death. Do your bit. Drop that cigarette immediately! One in 30, die of cigarette smoking.  Move, eat half your portions and make them nutritious.

Worldwide flight safety has improved dramatically over the last decade. Thirty years ago accidents occurred once in every 140 million miles flown. Today, it is 1.4 billion miles, a tenfold safety improvement.

Air accidents are not slated for the bottom of newspaper columns. Because of their sensationalism they occupy wide media coverage that arouse our terror, anger and pity. Car accidents are too frequent and therefore not newsworthy.

Whatever the outcome of the tragic mystery of the Malaysian Airlines, remember, “Che sera, sera”, whatever will be, will be!

Call it Kismet, karma, fate or destiny, trust in God and keep the faith. Book that next flight, and fly the friendly skies.

Close your eyes, and soar, up, up above the clouds. It is closer to heaven up there!


“For my part I travel not to go anywhere but to go. The great affair is to move.”

        Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

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