Allen On Travel

A 30 year veteran of world travel (but knows nil about Orlando-area attractions), Will Allen III writes about his weekly odysseys by air on business and how the airlines rob him--and you--of time, the most precious commodity on earth. Time: It's all we have, and the airlines routinely take it from us. This blog challenges the airlines to keep their basic promises.

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Location: Raleigh, North Carolina, United States

Born 1948 in Kinston, NC and raised there in beautiful eastern North Carolina, I now live in Raleigh and commute around the country and the world.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Reflections On the Air France Flight Lost At Sea

As of this writing the fate of the Air France flight between Rio and Paris is unknown. Like everyone everywhere, I hope searchers find everyone safe and sound bobbing in rafts on the Atlantic much like the miraculous US Airways that landed on the Hudson and safely evacuated
the passengers and crew.

However, a
fter thousands of flights over 49 years, many of them very long and over oceans, I am realistic about what probably happened. Anyone who has flown much has considered the possibility of going down.

I am not a nervous flier, but neither am I blase about any flight. Looking out a window from thirty thousand feet, one realizes how utterly dependent upon reliable technology and skilled piloting we have all become, not to mention good flying weather and the avoidance of bad weather. In the air I sometimes feel alone and at the mercy of good design, manufacturing, maintenance, and handling to keep us safe. I don't dwell on it much, but I do think about it sometimes.

It's especially lonely way out over an ocean. Far from ATC radar coverage, the fragile aluminum tube full of even more fragile human beings hurdles through the upper atmosphere in one of the last places on earth without continuous surveillance. Being tracked does not, of course, keep the plane safe, but when tragedy strikes, help can be dispatched at once instead of hours later if the event is monitored.

Flying nearby a massive electrical storm in the middle of an ocean is particularly humbling. En route from LAX to Tahiti last December with my family I thought about how pitifully small and vulnerable we were when, in the middle of the night, our pilots threaded the A340 carefully around and between several powerful thunderstorm systems in the South Pacific. I soberly contemplated how terrible it would be if those wind and electrical forces took hold of our plane and forced us down: certain death for my kids, my wife, me, everyone on the plane. I was glad we were well away from the storms, yet they still seemed too close.

People aboard last night's Air France flight across the Atlantic were probably lost at sea in just such a way. I am deeply troubled by the horror they must have faced. May God have mercy on their souls.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

AMTRAK to Baltimore or Philadelphia (you can drive to Richmond and take the train from there as there is much more frequent service from Richmond). Rent a car and it's a short ride to York from either station.

6/05/2009 8:39 AM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

I think your best bet for the DC area is to go right through the middle of it and hope for the best. Since the new Wilson Bridge has opened up over the Potomac, with associated improvements, I-95 isn't really that bad from Springfield on into Maryland. It can still be painful northbound from Fredericksburg to Springfield, especially if the HOV lanes are operating in the opposite direction. And then on the Maryland side you can still run into backups from time to time, but if you avoid rush hour it's tolerable.

When you reach Baltimore (always take I-95, not the BWI parkway which is typically congested), use the west side of the I-695 beltway to connect to I-83 towards York.

Oh, and for DC, listen to traffic reports on the radio and consider if it might be better to continue into downtown DC on I-395, connecting to New York Avenue, instead of going around on the beltway. That route is actually fewer miles and is what I take in the middle of the night and other times when traffic is light.

6/16/2009 12:44 PM  
Blogger William A. Allen III said...

Excellent suggestion, Jeremy. Thank you very much. I will try it next time.

6/18/2009 5:40 PM  

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