"In this sticky web that we're all in, behaving decently is no small task." -- Novelist Stacey D'Erasmo
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.