"Sailors plan for safety. For escape. For survival. Sailors rely on plans, on strategies that have worked before. Trust me, most mariners are conservative. We stick to the tried and true." Randall Peffer, "Listen to the Dead"
Saturday, September 17, 2016
I Don't Like to Fly ...
So I went to see Sully last night.
The last time I was on a plane was in 2012, on a round trip flight from New York to Phoenix. The trip wasn't too bad, but I must admit, I had a little help from Xanax. The time before that was a trip to San Francisco in 2006 to see my daughter graduate from college.
Yes, I know that statistically, it's safer to fly than to drive, especially on a long trip. But I just don't like the idea of barreling along high in the sky, cooped up with hundreds of other people in a cylinder barely bigger than an elevator, with only a thin skin of aluminum between me and 35,000 feet of . . . nothing. I feel every bump; I hear every noise. Air turbulence makes me sick to my stomach. And the most disturbing thing is, I know if something goes wrong, I can't get out and fly.
I think it's largely a matter of control. I like to think that I am in control of my life (yes, I know that's largely an illusion, but that's the way I am). I don't particularly like to drive with other people, either, I don't trust them -- although I feel safe with B, who's even more of a nervous nelly than I am.
But I've had some bad experiences. Haven't you? A bumpy flight through the clouds to Washington, DC. A death-defying puddle jumper to Montauk on Long Island. An aborted takeoff on a flight to Orlando. A hard landing in Miami when all the oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling.
I remember reading The Right Stuff while on a flight out of New York, sometime in the 1980s. We were held up on the runway at JFK for over an hour, due to thunderstorms, and I was reading about jets stalling at 50,000 feet and pilots punching out as their planes fell to earth.
Sully stars Tom Hanks, who does a good job. I also saw Hanks in Cast Away, which features a pretty realistic plane crash at the beginning of the movie. Anyway, Sully is not as scary as I thought it would be. The story is told as a flashback, as Capt. Sully faces a post-crash inquiry from the NTSB.
It's a good movie. Hanks is convincing in his role, as he always is, and so is everyone else. I have two minor quibbles. One of my favorite actresses, Laura Linney, plays a pretty lame part as Sully's wife. She's a great actress. What's she doing in this pallid role?
And the other thing is, I go to these movies mostly to confirm my prejudice, my bias that flying is a dangerous, foolhardy thing to do. But Sully didn't thrill me and scare me nearly as much as I thought it would. So once again, I have to admit that I am not the prudent, reasonable man I think I am, but the emotional and psychological basket case that I really am.