Fear and loathing up the mile-high club

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

As jour­nal­ists, we get to fly so fre­quently it’s be­come like hop­ping on and off a bus, even if that bus is more of­ten than not an Air­bus. This year so far, my fre­quent-flyer miles have al­ready been aug­mented by at least a dozen flights, both within China on short-haul routes and longer jour­neys abroad.

Some of us have never quite got­ten used to fly­ing, even though we have been hop­ping on and off planes more and more in the past 30 years— caus­ing in­sur­ance pre­mi­ums to climb in tan­dem.

Thereisac­er­tainamountofchild­like trusty­ouneed­toin­vest­while­fly­ing.

You must have faith that sev­eral tons of ma­chin­ery will per­form the nec­es­sary mir­a­cle of flight; that your pi­lot knows ex­actly what he’s do­ing and where he’s go­ing; and that at the end of the sched­uled hours of be­ing sus­pended mid-air, you will safely land at your cho­sen des­ti­na­tions in one piece, the tur­bu­lence of the voy­age all but for­got­ten un­til the next time.

Most of us are blase about fly­ing, not be­cause we have con­quered our fears but be­cause we have got­ten used to the rou­tine. We are able to walk on and off the plane with­out too much panic— at least un­til a grim re­minder pops off the front pages.

I hope with allmy heart that by the time you are read­ing this, the miss­ing cre­wand pas­sen­gers of MH370 would have all re­turned home af­ter hav­ing dis­ap­peared off the radar for so many days.

At the very least, we would have been of­fered some rea­son­able an­swers as to what ac­tu­ally hap­pened that fateful day when it took off from Kuala Lumpur and never ar­rived in Bei­jing as it was sup­posed to have done.

When the news first broke, I was on the high-speed rail en route to Shang­hai to board a 12-hour flight to Seat­tle. Need­less to say, an icy hand gripped both heart and mind as ev­ery con­ceiv­able fear about fly­ing im­me­di­ately resur­faced.

For the first time in­many years, I was ac­tu­ally afraid to fly, even though my son had dis­missedmy maudlin

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