Monday, June 08, 2009

Airline Crash Investigation from the Comfort of Your Own Home

Not to make light of a plane full of people disappearing over the Atlantic Ocean – it’s a pretty fucked up thing for a plane full of people to disappear over any ocean, even the Atlantic. The Atlantic Ocean is, after all, home to the Bermuda Triangle – a paranormal vortex/alien landing zone/obsession of high school kids who couldn’t get a date to the prom and instead stay up late at night to formulate conspiracy theories and carve handguns out of bars of soap so that they’ll make it through the metal detector, well, undetected.

So it’s not inconceivable that this plane was lost due to some sort of paranormal disturbance in the space-time continuum, a la “Lost.” And in fact, if television has taught us anything it’s that the most obvious explanation – and the one involving the least expensive special effects – is usually the right one. It would follow then that Air France Flight 447 found its way into a terrestrial wormhole, and now exists mostly in a parallel universe – minus the bits and pieces that investigators have so far located, as of this writing.

Here’s what happened, according to my investigative intuition:

Flight 447 leaves Rio de Janeiro at some time during the day. Or night. (I didn’t really do any research before writing this purely speculative report.) The plane gains altitude in whatever amount the pilot deems necessary.

Beverage service begins.

Fasten seatbelt light is turned off. The flight proceeds as normal.

Several hours into the flight, a man sneezes. A flight attendant kindly hands the man a tissue. The tissue becomes electrically charged due to vigorous nose blowing. The tissue is placed on the seatback tray table. The Airbus A330 has plastic tray tables, and thus the tissue is not given a chance to discharge against a metallic surface, as would normally be the case.

The sneezing gentleman decides to use the lavatory, in order to empty the contents of his bladder – three Diet Cokes and a Red Bull. He abruptly closes the tray table against the seatback, crushing the energized tissue between the tray surface and the fabric-covered seat. A fusion reaction results, as the tissue is instantly compressed by the force of the man’s urge to urinate.

A tiny, white-hot star begins to form within nanoseconds. The intense heat of this microscopic sun is enough to melt ice, and warms all cold drinks within a 2 foot radius. It also tears an airplane-sized hole in the fabric of space-time, which engulfs the plane and sends it back to 1880’s wild west America.

Unfortunately - as often as I wish life played out more like a science fiction TV show - the above scenario is completely fabricated. The sad truth is that the plane crashed in the ocean, taking all 228 souls aboard to the bottom of the sea. They haven’t found the wreckage because it’s 22,000 feet under water, not because it landed on the Planet of the Apes.

No other point to this post than to remind people that even though jet travel is, statistically speaking, one of the safest modes of transportation - even more so than rickshaw - terrible tragedies such as the loss of Air France Flight 447 do occasionally occur. The only good that can come of it is that they figure out what went wrong, and use the knowledge to develop safer airplanes. In any case, my heart goes out to the families of the victims.

It’s a stark reminder as to how batshit crazy it is that we can throw 600,000 pounds of aluminum 5 miles into the sky, and actually get it to stay up there, and return safely to the ground most of the time.

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