Flying is fun, well not really. Flying in Alaska is scary, even in commercial jets. Wind, snow, mountains, ocean, and fog all mixed together make Alaska an
exciting place to fly. I used to believe that, when you were born, we each randomly got a number. This number was the number of flights
you could take in your lifetime before having a fatal plane crash, but that was before Alaska.
I’ve upset the system. I think differently now about it than I did. I still believe in the old system, but I realize that at a certain point the rules change.
Once you’re flights move from easy flights from popular destination to popular destination to hair raising adventures
consider yourself enrolled in the new game.
For instance, the first time I flew from Fairbanks to Anchorage it was winter, bitter cold, and gusty. Slamming into an icy runway at 200 mph, I thought to
myself, “boy that was lucky”. The problem was that it never improved. On the contrary, the landings got worse and so did the flights between take off and landing.
There was that time when leaving Anchorage we had to fly into the mountains instead over the inlet due to high winds. The ascent was steep, really steep,
the plane was thrown all over, and the engine was screaming. Then there was that time leaving Sitka, or was it Ketchikan. Underway again after
a horrible landing in crosswinds, we were in the air headed for Juneau. Climbing steeply during heavy rain and poor visibility, there was a deafining pop,
the engines stuttered, and there was a blinding light. I don’t think I was out of place, thinking “this is it”. Reassuringly, the pilot came on over the
mic and said “there’s nothing to worry about*, we just got hit by lightening, it happens all the time and we don’t think anything is damaged…”.
Where to start, let’s start with the first bit. The part about getting hit by lightening in a plane desperately trying to gain altitude to
clear the mountains in a storm to keep from crashing into a bitterly cold ocean littered with islands and reef. Not a problem huh, I’d hate to be in
a plane with that pilot when he did encounter a problem. What did he mean planes get hit by lightening all the time? What? Since when?
So, if these types of flights are common, really common, then you are abusing the random number approach and the rules change. The risk just isn’t
the same if I fly from Milwaukee to St. Louis a couple times a year. So, I believe, that universe deals with this in two ways. Method one, after
the abuse is recognized one flight now counts as 1.5 or maybe even two. So if my number was 84 and I flew 25 standard flights and 12 abusive
flights, my number would be down to between 35 – 49 flights.
The second method is different in that it doesn’t use the old system at all. Once you’ve reached the threshold, flying is based solely on luck.
Your number no longer counts for anything. Your plane can go down even if you had 49 flghts left, this is the cost of abusing the system. My
gut reaction says that this is the more probabal of the two.
The last time I flew a plane the stewardesses missed my row during snack distribution. Most people probably don’t care, but I can’t wait for snack time.
I really look forward to it and I am always paranoid that I’ll get missed, because it happened before. Once I fell asleep and woke up to snacks and
drinks all around, but my tay was empty. I was fairly heart broken that I missed the best part of my flight. Well I’m not calling it paranoid
anymore, because they missed me again. I most look foolish because I feel like Milton on Office Space, you know, when it’s birthday cake time.
I even go to the trouble of making eye contact with the steward/stewardess when they start coming close and I open my tray. I don’t know
what else to do. Maybe I’ll start muttering and stretch and say something like “…boy, I sure can’t wait for my drink” or “…gee, I sure am thirsty”