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January 15: Air Crash Investigation
Warning: If you will be flying in the near future, please reconsider reading this post at a later time.
I am a frequent flyer, I love flying and I think the skies are a heavenly place to be, except for one tiny issue, I am terrified of dying in a plane crash. My worst nightmare is being in plane crash over the ocean, death by drowning (it’s one of the reasons I learned to swim, even though from a logistical point of view, knowing how to swim could not save my life). I apologize for starting off so morbidly, but the background information is warranted for this post. Needless to say, rough turbulences result in silent panic attacks and immediate prayer.
About a little over a year ago, I came across this documentary series by National Geographic called, Air Crash Investigation and it really changed my life. The documentary reconstructs air disasters (crashes, near crashes, hijackings, et al) using information from official records, eye witnesses, passengers and aviation experts. The investigations include crashes from decades ago to as recent as the disappearance of 2014 Malaysian Airlines flight 370. Aviation is a fascinating world and I watched the series obsessively for months. I learned so much, not just about the disasters themselves, but about how aircrafts work and how a seemingly small human error can cause devastating outcomes.
I have always had a keen interest in aviation, in fact, as a child, I wanted to be an air hostess. So, seeing how the investigators piece together thousands (sometimes millions) of puzzle pieces to understand and determine the cause of a disaster is absolutely remarkable. Sometimes it takes years and their dedication to the field is inspiring. So much so that a few months ago, I even looked into what was required to be an Air Traffic Controller. Sadly, there is an age requirement and it is too late for me. Here are the minimum requirements if you are interested (as per the FAA website):
- Be a United States citizen
- Start at the FAA Academy no later than your 31st birthday – sadly, it is too late for me
- Pass a medical examination
- Pass a security investigation
- Have three years of progressively responsible work experience, or a Bachelor’s degree, or a combination of post-secondary education and work experience that totals three years.
- Pass the FAA air traffic pre-employment tests
- Speak English clearly enough to be understood over communications equipment
Air crashes are rare, but when they occur, they can be fatal. As a passenger, knowing what can cause these (near) fatalities probably doesn’t help you avoid one, but it does expand your knowledge of all the things that are happening while you are (peacefully) flying.
Watch an episode and be amazed at what you’ll learn. If you don’t have access to the Nat Geo Air Crash Investigation channel (known as Mayday in Canada, Air Disasters in USA), then check them out on a few YouTube channels, Air Disasters, Air Crash Investigation TV, Mayday.
Happy Watching & Learning!