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Don't Believe Anything The Media Says About Aviation

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  • Don't Believe Anything The Media Says About Aviation

    Most who write about aviation online care more about "click-bait" than accuracy. They get paid by the number who view their article. That leads to sensationalism designed to frighten. Irresponsible? Of course. But even responsible reporters rarely get aviation stories right; they don't understand aviation well enough. Plus, in an incident, reporters can always find a hysterical passenger to quote who says, "I thought I was going to die!" Think about it. You can find someone who thinks that about every flight they are on.

    Television is worse that the internet. A TV show is more expensive to produce. To make the investment pay off, the show has to be aired year after year. So when a TV show tells you about a crash, they don't want to tell you that the cause of the crash was identified and resolved. TV shows about problems that are resolved don't continue to be aired. It is better for the producer to leave the impression that what caused the crash has not been resolved, and it might happen to you on your next flight. That impression - almost always false - keeps the show on the air.

    As an example, I was asked to appear on a TV show about a crash. When I sat down for the interview, I was told what they wanted me to say. I said, "I can't say that. That is grossly misleading." I was told the show depended upon that point of view. When I refused to go along, the camera crew was told to turn the cameras off, and the person in charge made a call to the producer. After some negotiation, I was allowed to say what was true about the crash. However, when the show aired, my comments were not included. They found some so-called expert who was willing to given them what they wanted.

    You might think you can depend on name brand networks. You can't. They need viewers, too. And accuracy, based on the shows I've seen, a cliff-hanger kind of story is their number one priority. For example, major networks did live coverage of a plane, still in the air, that was going to have to land with its nose wheel cocked 90 degrees. They had a so-called expert pilot on saying it could end in disaster. My wife was looking over my shoulder as I watched. She asked if the plane was going to crash. I said, "No. With the nosewheel cocked 90 degrees, it will not pull the plane left or right when the tire touches the runway. The pilots will hold the nosewheel off the runway as long as possible to let the plane slow down. Then when the put the wheel down, the runway will scrape off the rubber, then will scrape off the rim, and perhaps some of the strut. And the plane will come to a stop. That's it. No crash. No fire. No nothing."

    She replied, "In that cases, this is as boring as watching OJ in his Bronco," and walked away. When the media tries to get you revved up, do the same thing. Walk away.

    If you want accurate information, post your concerns here, and I'll do my best to give it to you straight.

  • #2
    Thank you, Capt Tom! I was about to book a few flights (this time with American as they are the only ones who fly direct to my destination) and then the recent articles today about a "terrifying" turbulent AA flight came up in my feed (along with new info about the fire they had in Chicago). I am freaked out! I had my whole nervous response: shaking, heart rate up, chest pain (I get that with anxiety), ... really nervous and terrified. I feel like I could continue my whole life and not buy flights if I let that anxiety win. Right now, I'm weighing the pros and cons in my head, and I think the opportunity to go see my beloved Packers play may win here, I hope. I also have SEVERAL flights coming up this fall (including a long one to CA, one to Hawaii, and another 10 hour one from Hawaii to Newark) and I don't know how to calm myself down for them all. Any advice to calm an anxious person who deals with the physical symptoms long before the flight? Or how to calm myself down about the long flights?

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    • #3
      Sorry I didn't see your post earlier and reply right away. The problem is that when stressed, the thoughts in the mind and the images we imagine are experienced as if they were perception, and thus real. That causes the impact you are dealing with. The only way I know to fix that is with our courses so that the stress hormones that cause this are reduced or stopped. See http://www.fearofflying.com/relief

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