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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Fly Me to the Sky

For a while now I've been coming across comments online about people clapping when their plane lands. They've all been derogatory and belittling of the people who do it. (Some do allow that if your pilot saves you from calamity, that clapping might be okay.) While I haven't ever said anything mean about this, I could see their point. Why clap about something that's so routine?

Then I read that article about the Delta flight that scooted into San Juan, Puerto Rico before the brunt of the storm hit the island and it mentioned that the 173 people applauded when they landed in New York. It was such a cool story, but it started me thinking about clapping on landing.

(As a brief aside, I wish I'd blogged about the Delta flight and hurricane Irma. Sorry that I didn't think of it.)

Anyway, I heard that back before flying was so inexpensive that people applauded all the time when they landed. I guess back then that an airplane flight was an occasional experience and that colored their perspectives. Also, back then flying was more dangerous than it is now. If you watch Air Disasters, you'll know what I mean. :-)

On the one hand, it's pretty cool that many people fly often and that no one really worries about having an issue in flight because it's pretty rare these days. On the other hand, it's a shame we've lost our wonder over flying.

Think about it. A hundred years ago, they were flying the Sopwith Camel. Now you can board a plane built from composite (787 and A350) and fly from the US to Australia or Seoul or China without needing to stop along the way. And fifty years ago, the 747-100 was not flying yet. It didn't take to the skies until 1969. If you board a 747 now, it's probably a 747-400--which came into service in 1989 and is currently being retired across many different airlines.

Flying is a wonder. It's an amazing thing. You can board a plane in Los Angeles and 13 hours later, go through customs in Sydney. How cool is that? And why isn't this miracle of engineering and invention, and even bravery from the earliest pilots not worth marveling over? Yes, it is common to fly, but it's still pretty miraculous when you really think about it.