In-fright musings get lift

I have, of late, spent more time than is usual flying hither and yon in aircraft.

Part of that time I have spent considering this matter: Have I spent too much time watching Air Crash Investigation on National Geographic?That consideration overlaps with the issue of a recurring dream that has haunted me somewhat over the past 30 or so years, in which I am on an aircraft that is about to crash.

The interesting aspect of the dream, in its many forms, is that the aeroplane I am in manages to land on a motorway or small road, or float to earth in some dream-like manner that does not involve death and carnage.

Anyway, there are some things I do on aircraft because of the mild level of dream-inspired deep-seated concern that flies with me, one of which is to make very sure I know where the exit doors are, in case I need to climb over the very young or the elderly, kicking and gouging my way to the exit in the case of an unscheduled landing of some sort.

And, that, interestingly, is exactly what the 155 passengers on the Airbus A320 that flew into the Hudson River on July 15, 2009, did.

As they were hurtling towards the river, someone called out, with remarkable good sense: "Ready at the exit doors?" Those at the exit doors called back, while surely certain they were experiencing the last few seconds of their lives: "We're ready."

It may be such snippets of information, a carefully re-enacted window into human behaviour in the most extreme and life-threatening situations, that makes Air Crash Investigation so compelling, and worth watching despite any extra tension it adds to the flying experience.

The episode of Air Crash Investigation at 7.30pm on March 7 is of extra interest for two reasons: the first because it is about that most remarkable story of the Airbus A320 that landed so fabulously, with no loss of life, in the Hudson River in New York.

The second, for New Zealand viewers, is it may give the flying-averse some tips on how to deal with a crash in the aircraft involved in the incident, the Airbus A320, coincidentally the same brand of aircraft All Black captain Richie McCaw recently helped promote on a visit to Dunedin.

Our 13 new Airbus A320s, though, probably won't be hit by a flock of geese five minutes after take off, as US Airways Flight 1549 was in 2009.

This episode of Air Crash Investigation contains some fascinating information on an incident you may think you already know everything about.

Like all episodes, the investigation into the crash is fascinating, and worth awakening the butterflies of fear next time you are rocketing, along with the birds, high above the earth.


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