Friday, May 13, 2005


There's always a small shudder of terror that quietly rips down my spine as I board a plane. Despite all I know about physics, and despite my advanced degree in engineering, it's still difficult to believe that this gargantuan tube of metal, riveted on to a pair of flimsy aluminum wings, can actually fly. Safely.

I'm not afraid to fly. Or afraid to die, for that matter. I just wonder if this is going to be the day.

The robot-like smiles on the faces of the crew members don't do much to alleviate any tension either. And a look towards the cabin for reassurance only returns a sinking feeling: Have you ever noticed that the instrumentation in the cockpit of any airplane looks like there has been no technological advances made since the Vietnam War era? Large, clumsy toggle switches sit next to crude plastic gauges. How come the dashboard of a multimillion dollar airplane lacks such aesthetics? The dashboard of a $9,000 Hyundai looks far better and more modernized than any plane I've been on.

As I walk towards my seat, I look at all the dopes who've preboarded (first class weirdos and frequent flier dorks) and wonder if these are the people I'll be found with in that mangled heap of fuselage debris.