It can not be without coincidence that the Discovery or National Geographic channel on Sky has a half page advertisement in the paper while the front page carries a photograph of the air crash in Thailand. What is the advertisement for? The Air Disaster program being screened tonight. Fear of flying.
If that’s not a cynical use of sensationalism and grief I can not imagine what is. But the advertisement is puerile in my opinion. It poses a rhetorical question to bait the reader. The description of what might happen to a Jumbo based on the word ‘if’. Well I have an’ if’ for Sky, if they stop publishing this sort of rubbish they’d help a lot of people. How extraordinary that in the UK a warning has to be given if a program contains bad language or scenes of a disturbing nature…but that a ‘documentary-drama’ doesn’t seem to have any limitations on the misleading advertisements it displays. A programme that willfully contains re-constructions of a disturbing nature… not for any reason other than cashing in on the emotions of anxious people. They, Sky, will defend their actions by saying people have a choice whether or not to watch the programme …but the damage is already done. Their case is no doubt correct in law, correct within the advertising rules but it nevertheless stinks. To answer their question posed in the advertisement simple maths will solve the problem…however the facts they give are misleading. Apparently their is a thing called a plunge which aircraft do…well I’m pretty well at the top of the tree in aviation training and I’ve never heard of such a thing. Then they claim that the 747 is spinning wildly….aeronautically and aerodynamically there is no such thing…an aircraft is spinning or it isn’t there is no such thing as a wild spin. They are the adjectives of the ignorant.
Following a fall of I think 3000 feet in 30 seconds the aircraft goes into ‘the plunge’ ‘ spinning wildly’ and during this manoeuvre loses 4 miles in height (that’s 21120 feet) in a minute. Thus the total height loss is 24120 feet and starting at an altitude of 40,000 feet, there is 15880 feet in which to pull out of the dive before impact. At the rate of descent calculated here it has 16 twentieths of a minute to recover. A 20th of a minute is 3 seconds therefore 15/20 ths (roughly) is 45 seconds. The answer is 45 seconds. I wonder what the program will suggest?
The purpose of this blog is to discredit the programme with regard to it’s suitability for people with a fear of flying based on the facts in the advertisement. The programme itself will no doubt consist of a few pieces of footage being shown endless times, a camera being shaken to give the impression of being out of control and lots of speculative opinion about what did, could, might will happen and will end in a summary along the lines that danger lurks everywhere, or that we’ll never know the answer, or that it’s only a question of time before it happens again.
If you have a fear of flying, ignore the programme. I shall be watching it because to me as a professional pilot having flown for 40 years or so it will be a source of astonishment and amusement.
Keith and the team.

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