Friday, September 4, 2009

Fly with the Best

When I was a kid I loved flying. These days, though I do more of it, and maybe even ever more, I don't enjoy it. Not only the endless hours of pretending to be a sardine bother me, or sharing germs with 400 strangers. It's also the fragility of the thing. I suppose this reflects the adult understanding of mortality which youth is so blissfully free of.

To the extent possible, if my travel plans enable it, I try to fly with Israeli airlines. In this case, not for patriotic reasons, but for security ones (Israeli planes are hard to hijack), and for safety ones. In America suicidal Islamists used to be able to take flying courses; even assuming they no longer can, lots of other strange folks apparently still can. You walk in off the street and start training. (In Russia the registration may be more restricted, but the maintenance crews use strings and glue). With the Israeli airlines, you know the pilot spent years in the IAF, doing more complicated things, before downgrading to simple craft like Boeings. If you must put your existence in someone's hands, these guys are professionals.

How professional? Look at this story and embedded video. An IAF F16 took off today with a young (22-year-old) pilot, and an older navigator behind him. Right after taking off there was aproblem with the engine. The control tower told them to bail out, but the expereinced navigator said there was no need. They flew to a high altitude, shut the engine off completely, and glided back to base. The film looks just like any other plane coming in to landing - except this one has been flying with no engine. Moreover, as they come in to land you can hear the tower and two crewmen talking. The tower is giving instructions about all the preparations they've made for a crash; the navigator is saying everything is going just fine, and the pilot is concentrating.


PS. Yes, I know that pilot in the Hudson did the same. I try to fly with him as often as I can't fly with one of ours.


Jack Steiner said...

Wow, that was something.

Michael W. said...

Haha. Unfortunately Israelis are also known for dangerous driving, so you better get a (what minority group is considered good at driving?) non-Israeli cab driver to take you to the airport since you are much more likely to die on the way to the airport, than during flight.

Yaacov said...

Alas, this is true...