Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Risk of plummeting to a fiery death declines

Great news for anyone with a fear of flying: the New York Times reports that air accidents are down 65% in the US in the last ten years, and the trend around the world is also downwards (yes, I know I'm always accusing the Times of manipulating figures, but that's with regard to Iraq; I believe them on this one).

Okay, maybe the news isn't that great, because if you have an irrational fear of flying then a bunch of statistics, no matter how positive, are unlikely to cure you of it. But if, like me you're just a bit nervy, then this is encouraging.

I flew a few times when I was young without any problem, then didn't fly for a long time until I was in my twenties. My first couple of flights as an adult were fine, but then I had a very bad turbulence experience on the way back from a skiing holiday in Bulgaria (when the stewardess is on her knees in the aisle, gripping a seat and crying in terror, it's not reassuring), and the fear took hold.

I got over my fear partly by flying a lot without incident, and partly by obsessively reading reports of air crashes, and watching documentaries about them. I realised that some very clever people made their living from finding out what exactly had gone wrong, and that every time there was an crash, lessons were learned that made the likelihood of a similar accident ever happening again remote.

This latest news is another contribution to my therapy (although I think the line 'Barring a crash before midnight Sunday…' might be tempting fate a little), and the next time I'm buckling myself in I'll relax that bit more. But you still won't get me on one of those budget carriers in Asia.

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