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[Just getting back to Scotland after being away for several weeks. I hope you’ll forgive this repost from several years ago.]

I don’t have a fear of flying. I have a fear of doing anything else at 30,000 feet.


Yesterday I was on a flight out of Seattle. The man in the seat next to me kept staring out the window at the propeller. Now, I don’t know anything about planes, and frankly, I try not to think about what’s holding them up in the air. (My best guess is magic.) But he’d already mentioned that his last job was with [insert name of famous jet engine manufacturer] so I couldn’t help asking.

Me: Is everything okay?

Him: I’ve never actually flown on one of these planes before. If that thing goes [chin jerk toward propeller right outside my window] our only chance—and it’s not a very good one—is if it heads the other way.

Me: Ah.

Him: Yeah, my job at [aforementioned jet engine manufacturer] was to make sure all those nuts and bolts stay in the engine case where they belong. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

Me: Oh?

Him: Remember the time the bolts came off and the propeller took out the top of that plane and the pilot managed to land? He saved a lot of lives, but of course the passengers next to the propeller were all killed. They didn’t even find all the bits of them.

Me: I didn’t remember that, but I can guarantee that I’ll be giving it some thought the rest of this trip. So… wonder if any of our fellow passengers have been exposed to Ebola lately?

Him: [goes back to staring at the propeller.]


So let’s review:

ONE MORE TIME: Flying? Not scary.

Flying? Not scary.

Passenger in next seat? WAY scary.

Passenger in next seat?
WAY scary.

What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you on a plane?