The Shocking Airline Story Nobody Is Reporting, And Its Relevance to Free-Range Kids

You can probably figure out why an astute reader sent in this column from Patrick htzyiydish
‘s “Ask the Pilot” blog. It’s titled, “The Silent Anniversary,” and begins:

AS NOVEMBER comes to a close, we’ve passed a remarkable milestone. It has now been fifteen years since the last serious crash involving a major U.S. air carrier.

On November 12th, 2001, American Airlines flight 587, an Airbus A300 bound for Santo Domingo, went down in the Belle Harbor section of Queens moments after takeoff from JFK airport, killing 260 people (see below for details). Since that day, there has not been a large-scale, multiple-fatality disaster involving a U.S. major. Over ten billion passengers have traveled safely aboard American, United, Delta and Southwest. We also could add jetBlue, Alaska, Hawaiian, Spirit and Frontier to that list; and, when they still were around, US Airways, AirTran and Northwest.

To be clear, there have been a handful of tragedies involving regional carriers and freighters, from the UPS accidents in Dubai and Birmingham, to the Colgan Air and Comair crashes, in which dozens died…. [But it’s] the majors that set the standard, and it’s only fair that we measure from there. And, in decades past, one or two catastrophes a year involving a legacy carrier was considered normal, even expected. Where we stand today is almost unbelievable. Fifteen years is by far the longest such streak, ever.

Read the rest here. And then think about fear of flying vs. reality of flying. Not that there are no plane crashes, ever. Just that they are rare and unpredictable. And as I wrote in that fateful column 8 years ago, “Why I Let My 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone“:

These days, when a kid dies, the world — i.e., cable TV — blames the parents. It’s simple as that. And yet, Trevor Butterworth, a spokesman for the research center, said, “The statistics show that this is an incredibly rare event, and you can’t protect people from very rare events.”

And yet, that is what the culture and, often, the cops insist we do: Stop doing something that’s normally very safe, that wasn’t safe one tragic, anomalous, unpredictable time:

Don’t let your kids walk home from camp. Or wait for the bus. Or play outside. Or wait in the car while you run an errand. Don’t let them swing on the swings, or even wear their bathroom pass on a lanyard. Don’t you remember that horrible time when…?

Like airplane crashes, crime has been going down. It is at about a 50-year low — a remarkable low we should be wildly celebrating by letting our kids play in the park, and trot off to school.

But the crime drop is a “silent” story, too. The front pages do not scream, “Wow are kids surprisingly safe!” They never will.

So that’s our job. – L


Why does THIS airplane story go unmentioned?



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65 Responses to The Shocking Airline Story Nobody Is Reporting, And Its Relevance to Free-Range Kids

  1. Jessica December 9, 2016 at 8:45 am #

    Great article!

    It does make me realize that we are definitely fighting an uphill battle though. Because I think that most, all, Americans know the statistics about her playing safety. They may not know that it has actually been 15 years, but everyone knows that “flying is by far the safest way to travel.” And yet so many people are terrified to fly; millions of people have an actual phobia about it; and there’s a significant group who simply don’t fly.

    My point is that just repeating the statistics over and over (“it’s almost unheard-of to be abducted by a stranger!”) is not going to be effective. People’s behaviors are not determined strictly by their logical beliefs.

  2. Katie December 9, 2016 at 8:45 am #

    Yes, but that hasn’t stopped them from the war on lap held infants. Nonsense about trying to push parents to buy an extra seat to put their kid in a car seat. I looked into it and could only find one story where during turbulence, a child went flying and landed in another passengers lap uninjured. In other words nothing happened. And I would assume in that case either a belt that attaches to the parents wasn’t offered or the parent wasn’t using it? When I’ve flown I’ve always been given a lap belt that attaches.

  3. Jessica December 9, 2016 at 8:45 am #

    Uh I was using talk to text. Hopefully you can untangle that comment.

  4. Katie December 9, 2016 at 8:53 am #

    PS. I don’t find it nearly as difficult as people claim to take an child on an airplane. It shocks me people drive long distances to avoid flying. That seems like it would be so much more difficult, not to mention it’s definitely more dangerous. Americans don’t have a lot of logic. Why not regulate what goes on the roads more? Why do we allow oversized angerous gas guzzler SUVS to be driven for no reason


  5. Katie December 9, 2016 at 8:58 am #

    PSS That being said I refuse to fly American Airlines/US Airways since the merger. They are the absolute worst. Flown them twice and each time one of my trips left over ONE whole DAY late! Despite having to pay for a hotel (we were at an airport that actually closes at night) they would not even give us a meal voucher. They claimed it was weather, which was a lie, because they sent another flight to the same destination while saying ours was weather related. Worst airline ever. Avoid Avoid Avoid!

  6. lollipoplover December 9, 2016 at 9:04 am #

    These are great facts…but most Americans don’t really have a high regard for facts.
    They rely on emotion and REALLY believe that times are different now…and we need to think about the children.

    It’s hard to tell them otherwise or speak about facts.
    When you share that you let your kids walk places or use their own bodies to commute, you get asked if you need help giving them rides or coats, like these options were never offered and the kids aren’t forced into being chauffeured everywhere for their own safety, when driving is one of the leading causes of death in children. Though suicide edged out car accidents for the leading cause of death among middle
    school aged children.

    Why has suicide doubled in the past decade among middle school students who’d rather kill themselves than die from a rare accident? Because we’ve raised hothouse flowers who don’t know how to handle real world challenges, like walking without feeling scared all the time. Look at anxiety and mental disorders, prescription drug addiction. We may have physically gotten our children to adulthood, but mentally, they are an absolute mess.

    Suicide- the LEADING cause of death.

    Then let them walk, bike, or play at a playground. That’s not what kills them.

  7. BL December 9, 2016 at 9:07 am #

    “It shocks me people drive long distances to avoid flying.”

    Depends on what you call a long distance. Between driving to an airport that’s in the opposite direction of where you’re going, getting there incredibly early for the convenience of Homeland Security, landing far from your eventual destination, layovers, etc., trips that take 12 hours to drive can actually be quicker by car. Or even by SUV.

    And that’s if they’re on schedule.

  8. BB8 December 9, 2016 at 9:12 am #

    @BL – I think you’re absolutely right about the time. And frankly, more TSA people have inappropriately touched me and my daughter than “strangers” or people on some ridiculous list. I have a severe problem with pounding it into my daughter’s head that no one is allowed to touch you without your consent, and then having her watch when someone does it to me, or worse, when they pat her down. Yeah, I know they’re not supposed to, but they do.

  9. Marie December 9, 2016 at 9:16 am #

    “Why do we allow oversized angerous gas guzzler SUVS to be driven for no reason”

    We allow them because people like to drive them and people have scads of reasons to drive them. I love my gas guzzler because it is comfortable, it hauls everything from bags of mulch to groceries to kids. We have made many long trips in our gas guzzler, so it holds many good memories. Still cheaper to travel by gas guzzler than to buy airline tickets for four. More comfortable, easier to pack the gas guzzler for the road than to pack liquids in see-thru bags for the TSA insanity.

    Plus, I like supporting the oil and gas industry.

  10. lollipoplover December 9, 2016 at 9:29 am #

    @katie (and the predictable SUV comments…the article was about flying, btw.)

    We have 5 people in our family and 3 large dogs We also love to travel.. For our last trip to Georgia, we did the app “fly or drive” to calculate costs/time/airline fees to best budget our trip. Turns out, it was cheaper and more efficient (the time difference was 2 hours saved with flying) to drive in that SUV.

    We were able to bring our bikes, fishing gear, golf clubs, and tennis rackets etc. plus food to cook in the well-equipped kitchen that came with the condo we rented on the island. We love to travel and believe in respecting the environment. And we own an SUV.
    Get over it, already.

  11. James December 9, 2016 at 9:40 am #


    First, how do you know people don’t need the big “gas-guzzling” SUVs? My job frequently requires me to be on sites where my morning commute involves driving to the end of a road that’s being built, then getting out and hiking for a mile to get to where I need to be. Sorry, but a sedan doesn’t cut it. I’ve tried. Being stuck alone in a wash in a desert is not an experience I’m willing to go through a second time. I’m also not sure what this has to do with safety concerns; it seems like a random (and incredibly rude) pot-shot at American culture.

    As for flying: Americans dislike public transportation options like flying and rail services because our cities aren’t built for them. Let’s say that my wife and I decide to fly somewhere. That involves driving to the airport and parking our car for the duration of our trip–an extra cost and a very real risk, given the number of car thefts/break-ins at airport parking lots. Then we get two young kids through TSA, which is a nightmare of invasive Big Brother nonsense. To make sure we have enough time, we have to get there several hours early, and best-case scenario is we’re waiting at the terminal for an hour or two. Then we fly. Then we land. Then we get our luggage, which is incredibly inconvenient.

    What do we do then? We have no vehicle. We could rent one, which is another expense. Or we could have a relative pick us up, which puts us at their mercy (if we want to visit friends we have to drive to them). How did we get our car seats to our destination? Do our kids fit our relatives’ car seats? If not, what do we do? Also remember, the nearest airport we could possibly fly to is an hour drive from the people we want to visit–so we’re having a pretty long car ride regardless.

    There are no taxis that go to rural areas. There are no busses. The ONLY option is a car–yours, a rental, or a friend’s/relative’s. That’s the complete and exhaustive list of your options. Don’t bother telling me what SHOULD happen; speaking as someone who’s flown very frequently, that’s the reality.

    Reverse this entire process for getting back home.

    For many of us, it’s a lot simpler to pack the kids up in a car we know has everything we need, and drive. We don’t have to worry about TSA, we don’t have to worry about missing the flight, we don’t have to worry about transportation when we get there, we don’t have to worry about anything but the drive. For my family at least, it has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with logistics. And we’re hardly alone.

  12. Katie December 9, 2016 at 9:54 am #

    lollipop-There is a reason the earth is in the horrible situation it is in. Fake environmentalists are the absolute worse. I’d rather someone just tell me they point blank don’t care about the environment than try to pass of some lie they have told themselves and now are telling others like me. Let’s all just be honest. You don’t respect the environment or others the lives of others who use the roads. Your excuse for driving an SUV that is 3x as likely to kill someone is your dogs? Your dogs aren’t children-leave them at home and get a neighborhood high schooler to walk/feed them. And pulling fish out of the water isn’t respecting the environment either. Would you be okay with someone stick as sharp hook into your home and pulling your dogs out for fun?

  13. Katie December 9, 2016 at 10:02 am #

    @BL I guess that would depend on where you live and from where you live from a time perspective you may be correct. Where I live I couldn’t see there being anywhere I’d actually want to go that 12 hours of driving would save me time on. As of lately where I live TSA lines have been relatively short. Perhaps they have even improved as they were actually nice to us and the process was relatively easy when I flew last month.

    But from a safety perspective flying is certainly safer. I personally think it is just too dangerous with the lack of regulations in regards to useless gas guzzler SUVs, minimal if any penalties for texting, and minimal penalties even for very reckless driving behavior. And the statistics show this. Granted I think people who live in areas where driving is the almost exclusive way of getting around are so used to driving they forget how dangerous it is.

  14. Paul December 9, 2016 at 10:40 am #

    Congrats on pulling this entire thread off topic with your non sequitur about those evil SUVs, Katie. What I find deliciously ironic is that you’re on a comments thread of a blog whose main message is that parents should be able to raise their children in a manner that they see fit, and what are you doing? You are telling parents how they should travel with their children, convenience and consequence be damned. Well sorry katie, it is far easier and cost-effective for my wife and I to drive our family 1,000 miles each way for Thanksgiving in our “gas guzzler” (which is probably more fuel efficient than any car produced when I was a wee lass, and actually is more fuel efficient than an airplane) than to fly, not to mention we have the added bonus of seeing other friends and family along the way.

    So I’ll get back in my minivan, and I look forward to passing your little Fiat from the left lane.

  15. Paul December 9, 2016 at 10:42 am #

    Oh and as for safety, yes, techincally it’s a little more dangerous to drive. On our Thanksgiving trip our vehicle was rear-ended. Then again, I actually think I heard my minivan laugh at the little tickle it felt. The other car – a wee little baby car that certainly gets at least 5 miles more per gallon than ours – well, that vehicle did not fare so well.

  16. Katie December 9, 2016 at 10:46 am #

    I’ll save myself time replying to all your silly comments. If you SUV drivers knew what you were doing wasn’t harming others for you own lame selfish excuses you wouldn’t have to write long essays defending your ridiculous selfish behavior. Your guilt is showing.

  17. Erin December 9, 2016 at 11:03 am #

    Well said, Paul.

  18. common sense December 9, 2016 at 11:10 am # are sounding like what my friends and I call the green kooks. you are convinced that you are the only one who can save the world. you think by changing the car you drive it will make a difference. think again. you would need to make all the factories in the world non polluting and at the same time change the cooking habits of most of the third world, such as open fire stoves etc. to start making a difference. that’s where most of it comes from. if you really want to make a difference take yourself totally off the grid. no car, no electricity, grow your own food[so it doesn’t have to be transported] wash your clothes by hand with baking soda, etc. otherwise you are just as guilty or not guilty as the next person. all your comments and lectures do is make you sound like a sanctimonious fool.

  19. Paul December 9, 2016 at 11:17 am #

    Katie, I don’t have an ounce of guilt. The fact that you can’t respond intelligently to a single thing said to you in response indicates you’re an incredibly immature person who, frankly, is not worth wasting a single other breath on. Cheers.

  20. lollipoplover December 9, 2016 at 11:27 am #

    @common sense-
    “…grow your own food…”

    But don’t catch it on a fishing hook.
    Only buy the wild caught, shrink-wrapped, pre-portioned fish from Whole Paycheck.
    I don’t think any answer you give will please a very biased viewpoint.

    This thread has turned into Law & Order: SUV

  21. Snow December 9, 2016 at 11:42 am #

    Hi Donna,

    I just don’t like flying. It’s expensive, it’s cramped, and it takes forever. In 2 weeks I will drive from my house in the Carolinas to my parent’s house in NY. It will take about 10 hours and the gas will cost me about $150.00, maybe. That’s one way, so round trip 20 hours and 300.00 in gas, tops…I really don’t expect the gas to cost that much. I just, out of curiosity, looked at the cost for my travel dates, if I were to fly. There are 3 of us, and the cheapest tickets I could find from the airport closest to my house to the airport closest to my parents house would cost, round trip for 3, $1,761.60. Holy cow, that’s a lot of money! The flight, including layover, would take 5 hours, and it takes me a half hour to get to my house to the airport, so that’s 5 and a half hours, you need to be at the airport an hour early, minimum, so that’s 6 and a half hours, then it takes an hour to drive from from the airport to my parents house, so that’s 7 and a half hours travel time right there (15 hours round trip), and that’s hoping there are no delays. Then I’d have to rent a car. The cheapest rental I could find when I just looked was $604.20 for a week (plus gas!) Now we’re up to a cost of at least, $2,365,80. I say at the least because we’ll be there for slightly longer than a week and I didn’t include gas costs. So now we’re at $2,365.80, at the least, round trip, vs $300.00, all to save 2 and a half hours worth of driving (5 round trip). Sorry, no thanks….I’m going to drive. Plus, when I drive, I can stop when I want, talk to whomever I want, eat when I want….my schedule is my schedule and I don’t have to rush around trying to get through TSA. 🙂

    And on that note, I hope everyone is having a spectacular day and a wonderful holiday season, whichever holiday you celebrate. 🙂

  22. common sense December 9, 2016 at 11:44 am #

    good reply lollipoplover…I had forgotten about the fishing comment. I guess she either wants all third world fishermen who are just about able to feed their families to throw back the fish and starve. or just suddenly after hundreds of years discover all the other ways to eat.. that would really cut back onpollution by cutting down the world population.

  23. jimc5499 December 9, 2016 at 11:45 am #

    Safe doesn’t sell newspapers, magazines or make you watch the news. There used to be a saying “If it bleeds it leads.”
    Safe doesn’t mean more jobs for cops, firemen or prison guards. Safe does make people question why do we need a SWAT team, why do we need a large prison with more guards. Safe doesn’t sell home security systems or kiddie trackers.

  24. Snow December 9, 2016 at 11:52 am #

    Sorry, I meant Hi Katie, not Donna. but hi Donna, too. 🙂

  25. lollipoplover December 9, 2016 at 11:56 am #

    @common sense-

    Right on.
    Jesus was a fisherman. Does that make him a fake environmentalist?

    (What Would Jesus Drive?)

  26. JKP December 9, 2016 at 11:56 am #

    I work with a lot of clients helping them overcome a fear of flying. The fear is never about some horrible plane crash. That’s why all the facts about how safe flying is vs. driving will never change their fear, no matter how rare plane crashes are.

    The fear is almost always about LOSS OF CONTROL (sometimes mixed with a bit of claustrophobia). They wouldn’t have any fear of flying if they could be the one piloting the plane.

    That also relates directly to helicopter parenting. No matter how rare kidnapping, etc. is, that doesn’t alleviate the fear, because the parents’ fear is about LOSS OF CONTROL, not the tragic outcome itself. As long as they are right there with their child, they still have some control.

  27. Katie December 9, 2016 at 12:00 pm #

    As for fishing, on I’m not saying buy fish at a store. Don’t buy fish at all. If you love animals don’t eat any of them, whether they are dogs or fish.

  28. Ray December 9, 2016 at 12:12 pm #

    It’s really scary, but we believe it’s what it’s

  29. Jess December 9, 2016 at 12:27 pm #

    I worked with a man once who constantly told me of the horrible dangers of red meat, and then he would go outside for a smoke break. What I’m saying is, there are trade-offs everywhere. We have an SUV and a Prius. We shop at Sprout’s and Wal-mart. We wear seatbelts and let our kids ride around the neighborhood by themselves. SUVs are not inherently evil and a person/family driving them is also not inherently evil, and telling them that they’re destroying the planet with their “gas-guzzler” is going to make them shut down and stop listening to you.

    Also, yes, planes are safe, the pilots are well-trained, and even if your plane goes down, you’re more likely to survive than otherwise.

  30. common sense December 9, 2016 at 12:40 pm #

    Katie..i’m going to assume you have no clue how much work it is to transform,say raw soybeans into tofu and all the other stuff they make from. if we were meant to eat this by evolution we would have starved and died out long ago before discovering how to process it. humans are omnivores, we evolved to eat both vegetation and meat in it’s various forms. yes you can get by on a diet exclusively meat or vegetable but it requires much outside help in the form of vitamins and mineral supplements. if you want to be vegetarian or vegan that’s fine for you it’s your choice. but for millions of human beings the choice is eat what you can catch grow and raise or go hungry. by the way eliminating all forms of animal products from the diet of everyone on earth wouldn’t save the planet,, there is not enough arable land to support all of us, you literally could not grow enough food. in many parts of the world[and there is a world outside of United States urban areas] people can survive only because animals ca utilize the scarce native vegetation and turn into a product humans can eat ,be meat or milk or eggs. you want to be a sjw fine, just make sure you look beyond the end of your nose.

  31. common sense December 9, 2016 at 12:54 pm #

    also you want to change the world? actively participate..we do through Project Heifer. from your donation,depending on how much you donate, a poor family in a struggling country is supplied with “seed” animals which can be anything from a pair of chickens and a rooster, sheep goats rabbits water buffalo,a hive of bees,fruit trees,etc. the only requirement is that the receiving family has to promise to share offspring with their neighbors so their lives can also be improved. every year my husband and I donate a different type of animal[this year we could afford 1/2 a water buffalo] the family that gets this not only get a draft animal to help with farming but the milk it produces when breed and an offspring each year. thislittle donation will make a MAJOR difference in many families for many years.

  32. Katie December 9, 2016 at 1:03 pm #

    @commonsense (which you seem to be lacking)
    Yes, let’s all do endless damage than donate money to do even more, pretending we are doing good: it’s the American way. If you want to do good spend your money on vegan food (which can actually be cheaper) and dtich your SUV/car and move somewhere walkable. It is how we live. If everyone went vegan there would be enough food in the world. Legitimate food relief organizations know this and thus hand out vegan food (even though they rarely care about the vegan aspect). They do this because it feeds more people. Project Heifer is a joke. Why waste food that could be going to people on animals? It only exists because American’s are stupid and don’t understand how to actually help. That isn’t even to say how messed up it is exploit animals period…which by the way be all are animals.

  33. common sense December 9, 2016 at 1:24 pm #

    I get it now, you’re a peta alumni. so I’m lacking in common sense? look at your last comment. all you know how to do is attack other peoples opinions. I don’t mistreat animals I don’t exploit animals I don’t drive an suv or any other large car. I grow and can much of my own food , don’t buy overly processed foods make most everything fromscratch. I also work on a farm and my degree is in agriculture[from cornell]. I will repeat what you can’t seem to understand because YOU believe everything your peta friends have told you. there is no way there is enough ariable land on the planet to support the current population with a vegetarian or vegan diet. there is too much land that is too dry, too sandy too alkali, too acidic and too many other reason to be used to grow crops. and that’s just crops for food. you seem to have a thing about fossil fuels, so let’s replace them with ethanol. oops, no place to grow them if you’re trying to grow food. you say rescue organizations had out “vegan” food.what they hand out for the most part are dried foods[which if you are handing out food in an area with no refridgeration makes sense] and most dried foods tend to be rice beans and such. but the biggest thing they try to get into those areas is dried milk for its protein content. oh no an animal product. so i’ll be expecting another nonthought out attack. keep them coming. p.s. if americans are so stupid and greedy and thoughtless go somewhere so that you don’t have to deal with it.

  34. Buffy December 9, 2016 at 1:57 pm #

    @Katie, you know airplanes guzzle gas in order to operate…right? RIGHT???????????

  35. lollipoplover December 9, 2016 at 2:11 pm #

    From Yale Climate Change:

    “Jet fuel produces an average of 21.1 pounds of CO2 per gallon while fuel for cars is 19.6, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This nominal parity in fuel-related greenhouse gas pollution, however, obscures the tremendous amount of fuel that planes use on the runway.

    Second, beyond carbon dioxide, emissions by airplanes have some particularly problematic aspects. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change points out that aviation emissions include water vapor, which creates clouds, and releases of ample black carbon, nitrous oxide and sulphur oxide. These in turn contribute even more to a greenhouse effect and the trapping of heat.”

    But who wants to let facts get in the way of a sanctimonious point of view?

  36. Chicklet December 9, 2016 at 2:56 pm #

    Thank you, Lenore, for another great example of when the best thing we (as a society) can do is allow you to decide what is best for your children and family and I can decide what is best for mine.

    The government should spend its time on things they are supposed to be doing (read the Constitution) instead of regulating how kids can play, or who can drive what on public highways. Busybodies, well, they can stand on their soap box all day long but I don’t have to listen or care.

    I applaud the airline industry, modern jets and air traffic control systems are incredibly over-engineered just to provide the extra level of safety that prevents accidents. The TSA not so much, and unfortunately they’ve made it a toss-up for flights vs. drives of 200-300 miles; and our big old car is paid for and very comfortable. So we, as individuals can decide for ourselves (without shrieking alarmists telling us otherwise) if we can fly, or drive; or let the kids play by themselves around the corner or at the playground a mile away.

    We don’t have to stop doing safe, normal things just because others are crazed about our non-politically-correct behavior. We are living in the land of the free!

  37. jimc5499 December 9, 2016 at 3:01 pm #

    “Jet fuel produces an average of 21.1 pounds of CO2 per gallon while fuel for cars is 19.6, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. ”

    OK. I’ll bite. How does 6.75 pounds of jet fuel (JP-4) produce 21.1 pounds of CO2? 21 lbs of CO2 would equal a block of dry ice that is 10″ X 10″ X 4″ in size. When ever you are reading a “government statistic” remember that the purpose of that statistic is usually to call attention to something so that the department that produced the statistic can get more staff or funding. Very rarely does it have anything to do with accuracy.

  38. Teddy Roosevelt December 9, 2016 at 3:15 pm #

    Wow, Katie- you’re one angry person!

    Nobody on this blog can do anything right, and you are going to attack each and every one of them, or try to shame or force them to change to suit your ideas. Well, it ain’t going to happen so good luck with that.

    Gotta go, getting in my SUV and going fishing with the kids. They’ll bait their own hooks this weekend, can’t wait to see how they do….

  39. Can't get there from here without.... December 9, 2016 at 3:41 pm #

    The stats will never get to zero because that is an impossibility without taking the whole thing out of life. Once you do, then you get zero. People should have learned in math class (no, not common core math either) when the line approaches zero and the matching data table shows 7 decimal places to the right you still are not at zero, you should have learned you are past the knee in the curve enough you are never going to reach zero. Bloody idiots!

    People who are mathematically illiterate will never understand and always cry the sky is falling!

    I am going to go outside now to catch lightning in a bottle with my metal umbrella while crossing the street without looking both ways….

  40. bluebird of bitterness December 9, 2016 at 3:46 pm #

    Before I had kids, I used to fly a lot because it was relatively inexpensive and convenient. All that changed once I had kids, and I didn’t fly for many years. After 9/11 I began hearing horror stories about how complicated and intrusive and miserable air travel had become, but I didn’t pay much attention. Then around the time that my eldest was 28 and my youngest was 12, my father died and I received a very generous inheritance. In a moment of temporary insanity my husband and I decided to take the entire family to London — something we had always wanted to do but had never been able to afford. It was my first time flying since 9/11, and if it hadn’t been for the fact that there was no other way to get back home from London, it would have been my last. It was horrible. I haven’t flown since and I will never fly again if I can possibly avoid it.

  41. James Pollock December 9, 2016 at 3:59 pm #

    “OK. I’ll bite. How does 6.75 pounds of jet fuel (JP-4) produce 21.1 pounds of CO2?”

    Well, you see, the C part of the CO2 comes from the jet fuel, and the O2 part comes from air. So burning jet fuel takes 6.75 pounds of jet fuel and about 14.35 pounds of oxygen (It’s not actually this precise, of course, because jet fuel isn’t all carbon… there’s a substantial amount of hydrogen and some other stuff, too.) But you get the point.

    Your “gotcha!” has fallen flat on its face.

  42. BL December 9, 2016 at 4:01 pm #

    “@Katie, you know airplanes guzzle gas in order to operate…right? RIGHT???????????”

    Airplanes (at least those headed to Iceland) are vegan and run on vegetables.

  43. Kirsten December 9, 2016 at 5:26 pm #

    This is, indeed, remarkable. I remember as a child in the 1970s and 1980s hearing about these plane crashes and worrying when I flew, even though I knew that even then it was much safer than driving. The psychology of it is just so different. We have even less need to worry now. It’s just that the thought of being in the air when something terrible goes wrong is much more frightening than thinking about if a car lost control, even though one is statistically so much more prevalent. I suppose it is the same way when we hear of these exceptional and horrific abductions and murders of people and especially children. The horror of such a thing happening to one of our children tricks our threat-assessment mechanisms into fearing it far out of proportion to its occurrence. The things that result in child injury like slipping in the bathtub scarcely cross our minds and we don’t stay up late watching scary movies about someone who fell off a ladder.

  44. Mike December 9, 2016 at 7:04 pm #

    Rather than just fear of something happening to our children, I wonder how much of it is fear of societal judgment and potential for social persecution for something happening to our children while allowing them to be free-range.

  45. Mark December 9, 2016 at 8:03 pm #

    @jimc5499, the analysis is straightforward — the sort of thing you do all the time in an introductory chemistry class.

    JP-4 can be approximated by the chemical formula CH2 (it consists of long-chain hydrocarbons, so the reactions involving the hydrogens at the end of the chain can be ignored without much loss of accuracy). Combustion then proceeds by the reaction 2 CH2 + 3 O2 -> 2 CO2 + 2 H2O.

    CH2 has a molar mass of 14, of which 12 AMU are the carbon atoms. 6.75 pounds of JP-4 therefore contains about 5.75 pounds of carbon. Carbon dioxide has a molar mass of 44, so reacting that 5.75 pounds of carbon with an appropriate amount of atmospheric oxygen produces 21.2 pounds of carbon dioxide. The difference between that and the government’s 21.1 pounds is due to rounding errors and approximations.

  46. Ariel December 9, 2016 at 11:50 pm #

    Side story that’s sorta related: I lived a few blocks away from where flight 3407 crashed (Clarence Center, NY). I remember we were having a movie night at home when we heard the emergency vehicles go by our house; it stood out as odd because there were so many of them going by.

  47. sexhysteria December 10, 2016 at 2:44 am #

    Good report. Also note that sex crimes against children may be rare, but what they lack in frequency they make up for in entertainment value for the pathetic general public.

  48. lollipoplover December 10, 2016 at 8:42 am #

    “If you want to do good spend your money on vegan food (which can actually be cheaper) and dtich your SUV/car and move somewhere walkable. It is how we live.”

    All parents parent in their own way. We all were raised by different people. We are all different people. And we all have our own thoughts and feelings. So it only stands to reason that we would all parent our children differently.
    Respect those differences, don’t judge them, even when they differ from how you live.
    Otherwise, you just sound like a sanctimonious asshole.

    Please excuse me now while I take out a beautiful venison roast to cook tonight that my son provided for our family during hunting season. It’s his favorite food and provides most of our protein this winter.

  49. Yocheved December 10, 2016 at 1:28 pm #

    Statistically, you are infinitely more likely to slip and kill yourself in the shower, than you are to die in a plane crash – and yet, thankfully, most people continue to bathe on a regular basis. How do they live with the constant risk?

  50. En Passant December 10, 2016 at 3:54 pm #

    lollipoplover December 9, 2016 at 11:56 am:

    (What Would Jesus Drive?)

    Well, according to some accounts, he drove the Gadarene swine off a cliff and into the sea. ;^)

  51. BL December 10, 2016 at 5:43 pm #

    “Statistically, you are infinitely more likely to slip and kill yourself in the shower, than you are to die in a plane crash – and yet, thankfully, most people continue to bathe on a regular basis”

    And you’re allowed to shower without arriving hours in advance for a patdown by the TSA.

  52. Frustrated High School Teacher December 10, 2016 at 6:03 pm #

    And, Katie is off on SUVs again.

    Well, as an engineer (who happens to know something about probabilities and design and material strength, etc.), I’ll say this: while flying is decidedly safer the driving, overall, there’s driving and there’s driving. While the probability of being in an accident while traveling long distance in a car is the same no matter what model you are driving, a small car, while more fuel efficient, gets its efficiency advantage from light structure. An SUV, with it’s heavy structure will be less fuel efficient, but any accident will much more survivable.

    Also, I’ll presume that you, Katie, haven’t seen this either, which I posted awhile ago:

    I will not deny the fact that many Americans drive SUVs as status symbols. And, I will agree, if that’s why the bought it, they’re stupid. However, they are also purchased for very practical reasons. I see many being used by companies for hauling equipment, supplies, etc. for their business, helping keep our economy going.

    For me, I own one because I am trained under the National Incident Management System. My vehicle is equipped with multiple two-way radios, and other supplies for ground search and rescue operations, ground disaster relief response, or to act as mobile Incident Command Post. Oh, and the cost of the vehicle and modifications, it’s up-keep, and most of that equipment and supplies (except the radios) have been paid out of my own pocket. Why? Because I believe giving back to my community, state, and Nation is just something you should do.

    So, if you are ever in Texas, and your hotel, or home you are visiting, gets hit with a tornado, I’ll bet you’re happy I show up in by big “gas-guzzler”, filled with all those supplies, and half-dozen other people (mostly 12-18 year-olds) who give up their time and money to help you.

  53. Cynthia Van Ness December 11, 2016 at 11:08 am #

    On Feb. 13, 2009, Colgan flight 3407 crashed in Clarence, NY, killing all aboard. So the claim that 15 years have passed without a major plane crash is not accurate.

  54. Hamilton December 11, 2016 at 12:47 pm #

    As I sit here eating breakfast next to my awesome five year old, (No. 1) who was phoned in as a bomb threat on Long Island, I’m so glad we stayed under the radar as much as we could there. We were just visiting the island for two years of physics research, but having heard stories like this one, when it came time for our daughter’s home birth, we toodled back across the country to Texas four weeks before she was due. When No. 1 needed vaccinations we flew back to TX to visit the grandparents and our pediatrician there.

    Perhaps our lack of trust in the ‘system’ had something to do with the nurse at the natural birthing center on Long Island denying us service after my then girlfriend, now wife missed an appointment because she was away at a national laboratory near Chicago finishing part of the particle detector she was building. The nurse imperiously told us that No. 1’s mom could return if she submitted to a tox screen to make sure she wasn’t using opiates.

    Oh, and the car thing? We did that out there too. Thank goodness, with a dog instead of a kid, and luckily for us no one went to jail. On a nice cool day, we left the dog in the car while we went to show our department head around the lab. An hour later we returned to find our dog holding three police officers out of the car. At the behest of a concerned citizen, the officers had broken into our car to do a ‘weffare check’ on the dog. One of them had managed to get far enough into the car to pop the hood so the battery wire could be pulled, disabling the blaring car alarm.

    To be fair, the officer took me off to the side, and said, “Thank God you’re here, that lady wouldn’t let us leave.” I have to write this up somehow now, so I’m just giving you a warning.” I think this is an unmentioned part of the problem. The police didn’t want to be there, and would have rather left, but they felt bound by ‘rules’.

  55. Colgan 3407 WAS NOT a major tragedy December 11, 2016 at 12:57 pm #

    @Cynthia Van Ness

    Go back and read the quoted section of the article above again and again and again… notes the Colgan 3407 flight as a regional tragedy which it was but NOT on the scale of a major tragedy of a large jet, which is the distinction required.

    Once you have done that, then you can comment on articles. Until then, go write one hundred sentences in cursive on the blackboard “I will not comment on the article until I read it thoroughly for all details before commenting.”

  56. Bill F December 11, 2016 at 1:57 pm #

    If you use “Shocking” in any headline you may run afoul of clickbait filters.

    If you use “The Shocking _______ That Nobody Is Reporting” you may have sold your soul.

    What’s next? “The Shocking Truth About _____ in ( insert location of IP address).”?

  57. DoHal December 11, 2016 at 4:48 pm #

    I don’t fly anymore. I was never comfortable flying to begin with and I had a bad experience virtually every time I flied. I always seem to get the kicking and screaming kid behind me or the person next to me needs my seat too. There’s never enough leg room nor enough room in the overhead bins because some people put more than one item or oversized items in. I’ve had flights delayed at departure, aborted landings, departure times changed without notifying me. I once missed a flight, even though I arrived over 2 hours before departure (before TSA) because the line moved slow. Throw in the current restrictions and delays because of TSA, baggage restrictions, full parking lots (I have to drive to the airport) and assorted other hassles, fees for everything, poor customer service and worst of all changing ticket prices, I’d rather drive than fly, especially now that I don’t live in NY and have to drive in the NE corridor, which is the closest thing to Hell I’ve ever seen. None of this has anything to do with safety or kids; just thought I’s throw it in.

  58. Donald Christensen December 11, 2016 at 6:29 pm #


    I agree with you in part. One of the biggest enemies of the environment is convenience. I have seen several people run their AC but with the door of their house open. They do this because it’s inconvenient to open and close this door. Also, the most off road that a lot of SUV’s will ever see is a gravel parking lot.

    Now that I said that, I’ll dispense what I really want to talk about. I was actually afraid of agreeing with you even in part. If I did, others may think that I’m just as bad as you! I’m sure I’m not alone either. Therefore your obstinate opinion is very environmentally unfriendly. Either extreme is bad. Having no consideration at all for the environment is bad. Likewise, blatantly condemning all that don’t agree with you is also bad.

    I don’t believe that condemning others (to the degree that you do) is the way to protect the environment. This is the same as I don’t believe the best way to protect children is to condemn parents for allowing their children to wait in a car.

  59. Donald Christensen December 11, 2016 at 6:31 pm #

    I meant to say extravagance not convenience.

  60. brian December 12, 2016 at 8:30 am #

    Snow–Dont forget that you will have about $30 of tolls if you are going to NYC from SC. 🙂 But even with that and some coffee at the rest stops you are still ahead of the game. No way I am flying instead of driving with my kids for anything under 12 hours. Train, maybe. Fly, no.

  61. BL December 12, 2016 at 9:19 am #

    “Snow–Dont forget that you will have about $30 of tolls if you are going to NYC from SC. But even with that and some coffee at the rest stops you are still ahead of the game. No way I am flying instead of driving with my kids for anything under 12 hours. Train, maybe. Fly, no.”

    It makes a difference if you live near a major airport. If you live in NYC (Hi, Lenore!), you obviously do.

    It’s a two-hour drive for me to get to Pittsburgh, the nearest.

    The farthest I drive on even a yearly basis is a four-hour drive.

  62. lollipoplover December 12, 2016 at 1:49 pm #


    We are 1.5 hours from Philly and it’s a horrible airport, with delays a plenty. We fly infrequently because with the cost to drive and park at the airport and to get to your gate (could take an hour! Some gates you have to be bussed to!) we find that driving is more efficient for cost, time, and most importantly, mental well-being.

    Driving to Virginia beaches like Chincoteague or Carolina’s Outerbanks (SUV required in some areas with no roads) is really the only way to get there often times. That stupid gas guzzler also holds wet suits and surfboards and yes, animals who enjoy pet friendly beaches and areas to roam free with their little humans.

    We have an SUV that is perfect for road trips that my husband also uses in the winter months for snow plowing. He has some municipal contracts (our local schools) and without him and his big bad SUV, schools wouldn’t open on time (or have delays over closing all day) and children and parents would miss school and work.
    A Prius isn’t going to push that snowplow.

  63. Donna December 13, 2016 at 8:37 am #

    Oh sheesh, gone for a few days and I get confused for Katie. Which is funny since I actually drive a far more polluting car – a VW diesel! Me selling it back to VW to buy and SUV would be an environmental improvement. But I love my VW and will drive it until forced to give it back.

    My family lives too far away to drive, so I do tend to fly frequently. That said with the hassle of driving 1.5 hours to the airport, finding off-site parking, taking a shuttle to the airport, waiting through security in the world’s busiest airport, actually getting to the gate and then doing it all in reverse on the way back only with a worse drive since we can’t go home from the airport the same way we get to the airport – and god forbid we had to check a bag because that can add on 45 minutes at baggage claim – driveable vacations are definitely easier and less stressful.

    I do admit that my first thought in reading this article was “damn, sounds like we are overdue for a major plane crash and I have to get on a plane next Monday. Great.”

  64. Buffy December 15, 2016 at 8:52 am #

    Come on Katie, don’t leave us hanging! How did you get to Iceland without using any fuel? Surely Iceland isn’t a walkabout distance from where you live……

  65. Par Donahue December 15, 2016 at 6:08 pm #

    Lenore you have it right again and again. How do the same citizens who are convulsing over global warming and air pollution drive their kids to school and keep their cars running for up to an hour in the evening waiting to pick them up? These kids need exercise and streets with sidewalks or walking paths are totally safe! Thanks for all you do!