Originally Posted by George Hatcher Metrojet Flight 9268: Flying the Mayday Plane Trail

Chasing and Facing the Human Side of Air Catastrophe

All I know is that when you fly in fear, the sky, the air, and the distance below is immense and hostile. In the presence of air, the earth and your stomach fall away, leaving your heart racing. I sometimes think of the fear passengers felt as a plane went down—but this is not something to dwell on. Dwelling is long, painful, lingering. For most, a crash is only seconds in the making. Maybe the catastrophe is so brief, there is no time even for fear. One hopes this is the circumstance for those who are trapped in the moment of final disaster, like this most recent one, Metrojet Flight 926 that crashed in the Sinai.

As a frequent passenger, I am accustomed to the feeling of flying. Even when going to the site of a crash across the world, I can sleep on the plane. Hope flies at night, sailing in darkness. This is after years of flying, and years of seeing the worst a crash has to offer. I don't know why it is. Maybe it is like going to a loud concert, and listening so long that the decibel levels disappear behind the ringing of the ears. Maybe it is because I have done my due diligence before getting on a plane, or because I have trusted my gut instincts about when to fly; or even because, when I do defy my gut feelings, it is in a good cause. Even when I look out and see only the runway lights and black space and an imaginary runway, I believe in the plane, the pilot, in the moment. If there is fear, it is a flash, and then gone. The pilot finds the runway; lands; it is solid earth again. Turbulence is worse on the nerves, but more commonplace. Just bumps in the road, like speed bumps, even if the road is made of air.

It takes many years to become a professional pilot, to qualify to man the big commercial jets; maybe I have put in as much time learning to fly as a passenger. It is not easy to give up control and let someone else drive the vehicle, especially when you spend as much time as I do, examining the cause of one crash and another. On land, I do the driving. I am less comfortable with someone else behind a wheel. But as a passenger on a plane, I have visited more different airports than I can even think to name. Different airports but they share some features: the presence of planes, the sound of engines; the roar overhead, the passage of time. Taxiing to the future, taking off. Always movement forward, onward, upward, and back to earth again.

It is an irony of what I do, fly across the world to meetings about a crash, fly on a plane to look at trouble on a plane. The journey ahead is always exciting, but I can't help but wonder as I step aboard, will this be the one? And the moment passes. Someone needs my help: someone in Saint Petersburg, Russia; Düsseldorf, Germany; Barcelona, Spain; Kinmen, Taiwan. Somewhere far away. I must fly.

About Air Crash Consultants

Air Crash Consultants, a division of Wrongful Death Consultants, is a service consultancy providing strategic litigation support in U.S and International aviation cases, and various aspects of aviation-related personal injury and wrongful death litigation cases, working with top US and International law firms. We are legal case coordinators and client maintenance providers. The company is situated in California, but operates internationally.