Flying, for some of us, is unnerving.
While we admire the science and sheer beauty of aircraft and have a great respect for the many pilots that go up in the clouds every day, some of us can't shake that subtle (or completely debilitating) fear.
Many of us who take commercial flights have varying degrees of fear in regards to plane safety; in addition to the rare but detrimental terroristic actions of few in the past decade and a half, there also exists the (admittedly microscopic) chance of a bird derailing your flight plan and interfering with your perfect landing. Or-as my train of thought tends to follow-maybe the wings will fall off, or a massive lightning bolt will strike the plane and render all of its electronic components obsolete; or the maybe the pilot pulled a Denzel and arrived a bit tuned up today.
Poppycock. Pure poppycock.
And while this is all but complete nonsense, it has-at one time or another-beckoned me to ask the question (to no one but myself): "Why don't airplanes have parachutes for passengers?"
Interesting. I mean, it's hardly a digestible solution for someone like me; while I'd certainly like to think that skydiving in a pinch would result in not only a second chance but also, perhaps, the resolution of my fear of heights, there's more of a chance of me parachuting into the ocean (the first most frightening thing on the planet) than anywhere considerably dry. So, totally, I'd be utterly peeved if it came down to donning a pack and hightailing it out the rear exit.
The last time I was on a plane, this exact inner-dialogue consumed me. If my anxieties in response to the many ill-fated possibilities of air travel weren't enough, my stomach now turned at the notion of having to jump out of an airplane and go full-on "Johnny Utah."
Thankfully (I'm still conflicted here), this won't be happening any time soon:
Since four hours of training just to board a plane is unrealistic, passengers would have to read and execute detailed skydiving instructions including how to properly strap the chute on in order to benefit from the parachute. Not everyone is good at following detailed, technical instructions even when time and stress aren't a factor. In a situation where the plane is going down and one has only a moment to get the parachute properly strapped on (likely while keeping an oxygen mask firmly attached and perhaps also needing to keep the seat belt on to keep from being thrown about in the cabin), it's unlikely most would be able to even get this far.
It's been agreed (among whatever body of experts handle passenger safety on commercial aircraft) that parachutes will not improve passenger safety. In addition to having to master the craft of skydiving in less-than-ideal conditions and time constraints, most issues with commercial flights come during take-off and landing-so in actuality, none of this question makes any sense at all.
But when you're flying at 600 mph above the Rocky Mountains, it may seem a heck of a lot more reasonable.