As a travel agency owner at the time, I will never forget lying in bed on Monday morning, Sept 11, 2001, watching the World Trade Center go down in Manhattan. Clearly, it was one of the worse days of my life. As much as air travel was affected by this cowardly act of terrorism, by January, people were again boarding planes and traveling the world.
Recent studies show that 1 out of 10 Americans are afraid of flying. With the most recent disasters in 2014, it is surprising that the number is not higher. On March 8, 2014, a Malaysian Airlines flight left Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing, and it literally disappeared. To this day, the whereabouts of the aircraft are sketchy at best.
Since, the March 8 incident, one could call 2014, "The year of flying dangerously." In fact in the last 45 days, there have been enough air mishaps to frighten even the most fearless flyer.
On June 24, 2014: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), A310-300, AP-BGN, flight PK756, from Peshawar, Pakistan. The aircraft was on a scheduled international flight from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to Peshawar, Pakistan, when it was struck by several bullets shortly before landing. Two cabin crew members and one passenger were hit, and the passenger died of her injuries. There were no other injuries among the 10 other crew members nor the 177 other passengers.
On July 17, 2014: Malaysia Airlines, 777-200ER, 9M-MRD, flight MH17, near Grabovo, Ukraine. The aircraft was on a scheduled international flight between Amsterdam, the Netherlands and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The aircraft cruised at about 33,000 feet when it experienced a catastrophic in flight breakup. All 283 passengers and 15 crew members were killed.
The following week, on July 23, 2014: TransAsia Airways ATR 72-500, B-22810, flight GE222, near Magong, Taiwan. The aircraft was on a scheduled domestic flight between Kaohsiung and Magong, Taiwan. The airplane crashed into a residential area near the airport while circling following an attempted landing at Magong, Taiwan, which is on Penghu island. Of the four crew members and 54 passengers, at least 48 occupants were killed. At least five people on the ground were also injured. There was heavy rain in the area at the time of the crash.
The next day on July 24, 2014: Air Algérie MD83, EC-LTV, flight AH5017, near Gossi, Mali. The aircraft was on a scheduled international flight from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and Algiers, Algeria. The airplane contacted air traffic control about 50 minutes after takeoff, requesting a course change due to weather conditions. The aircraft crashed in the area of Gossi, Mali. All six crew members and 110 passengers were killed.
Truth be told, most air disasters are caused by human error. But in today's world of modern aviation, you have a better chance of being hit by a car crossing the street than you do of going down on a commercial flight. Your chances of being killed in an air catastrophe is highly unlikely. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, in the event of an air crash, the chances of you surviving, far outnumbers the likelihood of death. The odds are clearly in your favor. Being involved in an aircraft fatality is somewhere around 1 in 11-14 million, depending on which report you believe. The chances of dying in a car accident is 1 in 5,000. The statistics are even higher if you reside in Los Angeles.
Do plane crashes scare people from flying? The definitive answer is no. Barring another 9/11 type catastrophe, whether for business or for pleasure, travelers will continue to travel by air, and flying remains one of the safest ways to travel.
The traveler's memory is short. How many people remember the worst air disaster of all time? On March 27, 1977, off the coast of Africa in Tenerife, over Spain's Canary Islands, two Boeing 747's collided in a heavy fog killing 583 passengers.
Air disasters will always be a part of our world, but aviation technology is constantly improving. This is as it should be, with an improving world economy, air travel is on the rise.
Follow Nicholas Kontis on Twitter: www.twitter.com/nickworldtravel