Friday, March 15, 2013

In Others Hands

I recently discovered a treasure trove of full length shows on YouTube. I started with shows that I love like Extreme Engineering, then moved to shows I hadn't seen before like Big, Bigger, Biggest. Then I found a buttload of Air Crash Investigations and Mayday. I love this kind of television.

After watching about a week and a half of Air Crash Investigations (and thankfully, I don't appear to have exhausted this resource), I had a scrary thought.

How many times a day do you find yourself in this situation? Every time you get on a plane. or drive a car, ride a train, drive on a highway, etc, consider this. Every time you do such things, you are placing your life in the hands of a string of people, pilots, engineers, mechanics, air traffic controllers, etc, any one of which could have "phoned it in" during their part in the chain of events that you found your life in the hands of.

The pilot of a British Airways flight got sucked out the window because a technician put too small of bolts in. It was dark and he tried to eyeball them. He also didn't check the manual because he thought he knew what he was doing.

A SwissAir fligh crashed because the entertainment system overheated and the insulation was flamable. Apparently, it was spliced directly into the electrical system with no circuit breaker.

An Alaska Airways flight crashed in the ocean off Los Angeles because the airline cut back on maintenance and a jackscrew wasn't lubricated and broke off in the horizontal stabilizer, pushing the plane into a death dive.

A commuter flight crashed in Georgia because the guy who was supposed to inspect the propellers wasn't trained properly.

A Japan Airlines 747 crashed because of an improper repair done to its pressure dome. The dome burst in flight, taking off the tail fin.

An American Airlines DC-10 had an engine fly off during take-off because of improper maintenance. The plane could have survived, but the pilots were trained to "go to V2 speed", which was slower than the plane was flying at the time. The plane lost lift over the engineless wing and crashed. Also, most of the instruments were wired into the engine that blew off. No engine, no stall indicator.

When ou think about it, it's terrifying how many hands we put our lives in as we go through our days.  I'm glad I haven't flow in more than 4 years.

Every time you eat, you have to trust that the food was obtained and prepared correctly. Every time you take medicine, you have to trust that the manufacturer and pharmacist and doctor had a freaking clue what they were doing. (NOTE: doctors and pharmacists doing their jobs correctly kill more people every year than guns do).

For the most part, things go right. But when they don't, you're screwed. As for you, please practice attention to detail as you do your own duties. Especially when "phoning it in" could get somebody killed.
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