The American people should not fear an airline just because a few of its aircraft have been lost. Things just go bad sometimes. Me personally, I would not have a problem boarding any aircraft of any airline. Why? because I choose to ACCEPT the risks of flying. I realize one day I am not going to be so lucky and something will happen...but you try to beat the odds and continue to fly. I guess I can accept the risks because I too am a pilot (not a professional pilot yet!) but I do fly myself around the islands here in Japan--mostly over water--but I never think about crashing or a problem arising. I trust the maintenance personnel servicing the aircraft and I trust my abilities as a pilot...but some things are beyond my control...i.e. bad weather, mechanical failures, hijackings, etc. Flying is dangerous--period. But you can choose to accept the relatively small risk of flight or take the big risk of getting on America's major highways and deal with drunk drivers, road rage, and other hazards...I would take my chances with the flying! Not that driving is a bad thing--but I feel its a little safer to fly (and quicker!) I have a meager 53 flight hours as pilot in command, and I have crossed the Pacific (as a passenger) 8 times--no fear for this crazy leatherneck! And Yes, those Pac crossings were in civilian aircraft-- NW, United, ANA, and even China Airlines! China Airlines has the reputation of being the "unsafe" airline in Asia, but hey, I'm still live and kickin' after riding with them! The news media loves to grab peoples attention and work on their fears--it makes for great ratings and causes the people to do what "they" want. The fact is use common sense--most airlines are safe, but realize stuff happens...deal with it and accept it. No one can guarantee a safe flight, just like no one can guarantee if you go to sleep at night you will wake up in the morning...humans are humans...pilots make mistakes, aircraft mechanics make mistakes, Air Traffic Controllers make mistakes...a Boeing 777 pilot for United told me once on my way home on vacation...its OK to make a mistake, the key is to correct the mistake before it becomes a problem. Pretty smart guy. Bottom line, I think we all need to do a gut check before we board any aircraft--ask yourself do you want to accept this risk? If so, get on the plane and enjoy--don't worry about bad things happening--once those wheels leave the ground you are guaranteed to come down one way or another, but 9 times out of 10 it is what we pilots call a nice, controlled, smooth decent and landing. And if a crash is imminent, there's not much you can do anyway...try to control the aircraft as much as possible and ride it down and hope for the best...a controlled crash is better than an uncontrolled one. The loss of life on AA587 was probably due to an uncontrolled crash. A controlled one would most likely have yielded a few survivors. My deepest regrets to the families of the passengers and crew of that ill fated flight. But we should continue to help the airlines by flying on the aircraft and being vigilant and aware of everything and everyone around us while we travel as passengers. Have no fear of flying...but remember...you have to accept a relatively minimal risk...if you choose not to...then walk...or drive...or rail it, but it has risk too.
Best regards to my fellows aviators and enthusiats,
Cpl Carrick Dunn USMC