On the flyingwithoutfear.com website we have always been critical of the press coverage of aircraft accidents and incidents. Today a major world wide news service was actually inviting viewers to send in their pictures of films of today’s crash. With what purpose can that serve anyone’s interest? What it does though, is to illustrate the news value of sensationalising rare events. For someone with a fear of flying, their immediate reaction will be to become even more fearful. The reports of the survivors seem to take precedence over any qualified assessment of the facts. It is a well known psychological fact that once we know the outcome of an event we believe ourselves to have predicted it before it happened…though few people seem ever to benefit from this insight when they experience it. Of course we can understand why this happens in the light of an experience which has been life threatening, but it doesn’t add anything to the facts of the matter. Regardless of how any survivor describes today’s accident, what they felt emotionally will be totally irrelevant to any enquiry or cause of the accident. What it will do is add to the fear of flying that exists within the population. To hear these personal reports gives us a vicarious insight into the most basic of all human instincts, what is the nature of life and death. It has value only to philosophers, doctors, therapists, psychologists and anyone who has an interest in understanding human life… or the media who can trade in it for all its sinister value. It has absolutely no value or benefit to air safety. Therefore it can have no value to anyone who interprets the personal reports as a true account of what happened. It affects only their thoughts and therefore their emotions. ..and it that which subsequently affects their behaviours. For those with a fear of flying there is a direct causal link between these sorts of reports and an increase in their fear of flying.
“We were coming down too fast” is like saying the surgeons knife was blunt because we’re left with a scar after an operation there is simply no way of knowing unless you are eqipped with evidence. The human body can not measure anything in the way of motion unless it is changing.
To come directly to the point, if an annual report were published each year of the number of deaths caused in worldwide air accidents, numerically it would read approximately 950. If there were no press reports, no pictures, no news flashes, no personal stories, no interviews at bedsides, no eyewitness testimonials, no uninformed comment…in other words no press or media clap trap then the figures may surprise you or not but I seriously doubt whether they would stir your imagination like today’s reports. If you want to overcome your fear of flying DO NOT pay any attention to media reports. If you would like to hear my comments on any media reports, send them to me and I will interpret them for you.
This article has taken me and hour and a half to prepare, revise and publish. In that time 7 people have died on roads in the USA, 1 on the roads of the UK , 1 in UK hospitals from causes inflicted by the hospital by cross infection.
Captain Keith Godfrey