Straight up, I’m scared of flying. I hate it. A slight bump of turbulence at 40,000 feet is enough to instantly drench me in a cold sweat and have me clenching the armrests at either side of my seat. Whether the passengers beside me were using those armrests is irrelevant — if the plane shakes, every armrest on the craft belongs to me.

Because I am scared of flying, I have read a fair bit into it, mostly to reassure myself. I also avoid air crash investigation shows like the plague. I always think if there are enough plane crashes to make a 15 season TV show (which is still running, by the way) then surely flying can’t be all that safe. This thought generally occurs to me somewhere between take-off and crying on the shoulder of the unlucky sod beside me, explaining to him that, “I’m too young to die”.

It turns out that flying is actually super safe. It is, in fact, the second safest form of transport, only beaten by elevators. That’s safer than riding a push-bike. That’s safer than walking.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that if there were an elevator that could take me to Italy I wouldn’t give up flying — I would in an instant — but it’s reassuring to know nonetheless. You actually have a one in 11 million chance of dying in a plane crash, based on fatality statistics. I’m sure you’ve all heard the classic irony that ‘you’re more likely to die on the way to the airport than you are in the actual flight’, but I’ve come up with a few better axioms:

  • You’re more likely to be killed by lightning than you to die in a plane crash
  • You’re more likely to die from a terrorist attack than to die in a plane crash
  • You’re four times more likely to die by falling off a ladder than to die in a plane crash

Other things that are more likely to occur than death while flying include being scalded by hot water, being killed in an accident at work, drowning in a bath, and even dying by falling out of bed. Good luck falling out of one of those airplane seats and dying — those things are so tight that just getting in and out feels like trying to escape a straitjacket.

Okay, so this review wasn’t really meant to be about plane safety but more about planes in general. I guess they’re pretty impressive. They’re huge hunks of metal that hotbox a bunch of peoples’ farts and somehow defy physics and fly around the world.

5 out of 5 stars

Words by Pietro Angeli
Artwork by Timothy Kirkham